Weinstein wants white female jurors excluded from case

As of Thursday, none of the 7 jurors picked were women

Harvey Weinstein’s legal team came under fire for allegedly eliminating white women from the prospective juror pool during the ongoing jury selection for his New York rape and sexual assault trial, according to a Variety report.

Continue Reading Below

Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi made a formal complaint with Manhattan Supreme Court Judge James Burke on Thursday, Variety reported, noting that at least seven potential white female jurors were booted from the prospective juror pool by the team of defense attorneys.

“He has eliminated every single young, white female from both panels,” Illuzzi said, referring to one of Weinstein’s attorneys.

Harvey Weinstein, left, with his lead attorney Donna Rotunno after a lunch break on the first day of jury selection of his sexual assault trial, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


The defense said it wasn't specifically targeting young women, but didn't want jurors who were too young to understand the way men and women interacted in the early 1990s.

"That was a different time in New York and on planet Earth," Weinstein attorney Arthur Aidala said.

The legal team defending the disgraced movie mogul is led by Donna Rotunno, who also responded to Illuzzi’s claim in court by explaining that they had rejected one potential female juror because she is working on a book based on “assumptions about women in the workplace,” according to the report.

She told the judge: “This is not some conspiracy against the state.”

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves court for the day with his attorneys and Donna Rotunno, right, and Damon Cheronis, second from right, on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A rep for Weinstein's legal team did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

By the end of the day Thursday, seven jurors — four men and three women —were selected from the roughly 145 potential jurors who remained in the pool after an initial round of questioning.

Variety noted that two of the female jurors are African American, while the other is Hispanic and African American. Meanwhile, three male jurors are white.


Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting another woman in 2006. He has pleaded not guilty and said any sexual activity was consensual. If convicted, Weinstein could face life in prison.

Approximately 100 accusers have detailed their own allegations of sexual misconduct, according to The Cut.

Recording artist Taylor Swift, musician Este Haim, actress Jaime King, producer Harvey Weinstein and recording artist Lorde in 2015. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for TWC)

Weinstein’s defense team made a last-minute demand on Thursday to halt jury selection and move his rape trial out of New York City, where they say intense publicity, protesters and even the consideration of supermodel Gigi Hadid as a juror have turned the case into a “media and entertainment circus.”

Hadid, 24, was officially removed from the prospective jury pool after returning to court on Thursday.


Supermodel Gigi Hadid arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for Harvey Weinstein's jury selection in his trial on rape and sexual assault charges in New York, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

She acknowledged Monday that she had previously met the 67-year-old filmmaker, as well as potential witness Salma Hayek. She told the court she believed she could still "keep an open mind on the facts."

The trial is expected to feature a number of high-profile celebrity witnesses.


Earlier in the month, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced they had charged Weinstein with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery. Prosecutors in California alleged on Feb. 18, 2013, he forced himself into an unidentified female victim’s hotel room and raped her, according to a press release by the district attorney’s office.

Harvey Weinstein's lead attorney Donna Rotunno, left, holds his walker at the bottom of a staircase as he leaves court for the day during jury selection in his trial on rape and sexual assault charges, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in New York. Jury sele

The next day, he allegedly sexually assaulted a different woman in a Beverly Hills hotel room, the release states.

Burke has said he expects a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates to be seated in time for opening statements and testimony next Wednesday. He told prospective jurors that he expected the trial to finish up in early March.

Testimony is set to begin next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.