Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer has some terrible takes on sexual assault that she shared in a recent podcast
Accused rapist Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer appeared on a podcast recently where she spewed some victim-blaming garbage that makes it easy to see why she felt moved to defend him in the first place. Clearly Donna Rotunno, attorney at law, thinks that most women who are sexually assaulted brought it on themselves. She was given several chances to clarify her stance by the podcast’s host, and yup, she’s just truly that awful and meant exactly what she said.
When asked during an interview today with The New York Times’ The Daily podcast whether she’s ever been sexually assaulted, Rotunno shared this terrible take: “I have not because I would never put myself in that position,” she said. “I’ve always made choices from college age on where I never drank too much. I never went home with someone that I didn’t know. I just never put myself in any vulnerable circumstances ever.”
New York Times reporter Megan Twohey, co-author of “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement,” asked Rotunno, “Do you believe every woman who’s been sexually assaulted somehow put herself in that position — whether it was having drinks or agreeing to go to a hotel room?”
Rotunno’s somehow even worse response? “Absolutely not but just as we make smart decisions when we walk out on the street at night, I think you have to make the same decision when you’re putting yourself in circumstances with other people.”
“When we walk out at night we look around, we make sure we have our phone, some people take mace,” she clarifies while still absolutely missing the mark. “We take precautions. All I’m saying is women should take precautions.”
What Rotunno’s neglecting to acknowledge with her awful statement is that so many cases of rape and sexual assault aren’t the result of a woman walking down the street and having an attacker jump out of a dark alley. They aren’t the result of a woman going home with a man she barely knows after too many drinks, and even if she did, she still isn’t positioning herself for attack. In many cases, including Weinstein’s, the power dynamic between the attacker and the victim is what qualifies the encounter as sexual assault. His victims have testified that he made them afraid to take action after he assaulted them, with actress Annabella Sciorra testifying that Weinstein was “threatening” when she confronted him after his alleged attack on her.
No woman walking alone at night or having a few drinks at a party or even walking out of her house stark naked is “putting herself” in a position to be assaulted. No woman taking a meeting alone with a man in power is putting herself in a position for anything other than a job opportunity. The fault always has and always will lie with the person who decides to sexually assault another person. Period. No exceptions or caveats. This woman is a dangerous moron who really needs to stop talking.
But of course, she keeps on going.
Rotunno then mentions how women who go on a date with a man and have a few drinks and then decide to go back to his place should more or less expect that they could be in danger. I wonder what she thinks of the man who assaulted me in college? Who I had become close friends with over the course of two semesters, hanging out with him almost daily including a number of evenings with us alone in his dorm room doing school work? Should I still have kept in the back of my mind that he would decide one night that he wanted something I wasn’t willingly giving? Should I have seen that coming, Donna? Please dispense your hard-won wisdom, you super tough girl who knows better than all of us who’ve been raped.
Her solution to the problem of rape and sexual assault, of course, is snarky and woman-hating. As Twohey clarifies that Rotunno indeed meant what she said — that women are somehow culpable in their own sexual assaults — she also gets the lawyer to explain what men should be doing to avoid women being sexually assaulted. Naturally, her response isn’t simply THEY SHOULD STOP SEXUALLY ASSAULTING WOMEN.
“I think men also need to be very clear about their intentions,” Rotunno said. “And if I was a man in today’s world, before I was engaging in sexual behavior with any woman today, I would ask them to sign a consent form.”
Twohey, clearly a bit stunned, wonders if she’s kidding. “I am being dead serious,” Rotunno says. “Because how easy is it for two people to engage in behavior and a day later, two days later, five days later, 27 years later, somebody says, ‘You know what? That’s not what that was.'” She says a consent form would “take all of the question out of it. make it easier on everybody.”
It’s enough to make your head explode, honestly. The prosecution in the case against Weinstein in which he is charged with five counts, including rape, criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault, rested yesterday. A total of six women provided graphic and upsetting testimony about Weinstein’s attacks on them. His defense is arguing that the encounters were all consensual.
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