NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s New York rape trial are expected to hear testimony about the nature of memory on Friday from a psychology professor, one of the witnesses whom lawyers for the former Hollywood mogul are calling as experts.
Elizabeth Loftus, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, has written extensively about false memories. Weinstein’s lawyers are likely to use her testimony to attack the credibility of the six women who have testified against him at the trial.
Loftus co-wrote a 2015 paper in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology titled “Remembering Disputed Sexual Encounters: A New Frontier for Witness Memory Research,” in which the authors concluded that accusations of sexual assault often involve “honest disagreement in interpretation of consent between the parties” and that an “accuser may well falsely remember that she overtly said or did things that she only thought about.”
Justice James Burke has barred her from testifying specifically about memories of sexual encounters, saying such testimony would not be based on generally accepted scientific research.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann and to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi. Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
The former producer, known for films including “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied any non-consensual sex.
His trial is widely seen as a milestone in the #MeToo movement in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct.
During the prosecutors’ two-week case, which ended Thursday, jurors have heard testimony from six women. Mann testified that Weinstein raped her in 2013 in the course of a years-long relationship and Haleyi said that he forced oral sex on her in his Manhattan home in 2006.
Actress Annabella Sciorra testified that Weinstein violently raped her in her own home in 1993 or 1994. Though that allegation is too old to be charged as a separate crime, prosecutors hope it will show Weinstein is a repeat sexual predator, the charge that could put him in prison for life.
Three other women who are not part of the criminal charges, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff and Lauren Young, testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted them. Prosecutors presented their testimony as evidence of Weinstein’s intent.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman