Expert Psychologist Testifies in Harvey Weinstein Case About "Rape Myths"

Barbara Ziv, who provided expert testimony in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial, educated jurors on Friday regarding common misconceptions about sexual assault victims.
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Harvey Weinstein arriving at court on Friday

Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychologist who testified for the prosecution in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case, offered her expertise to the 12 jurors who will decide Harvey Weinstein's fate in New York County.

Ziv, who testified on Friday as the prosecution's third called witness, educated the jurors about "rape myths," including the commonly held — but incorrect — belief that most rapes are committed by strangers and that victims of sexual assault generally resist their assailants.

She also said that "the vast majority" of sexual assault victims don't "promptly" report what has happened to them. On Thursday, actress Annabella Sciorra testified that she did not fully reveal her claim that Weinstein raped her in the winter of 1993 until 2017, when it was reported on.

Ziv told jurors that it is "extremely common" for sexual assault victims to have "subsequent contact" with their perpetrator, particularly when they know the person who attacked them.

"As devastating as sexual assault is, most individuals think, 'OK, I can put it behind me,' " she said. "'I can move on with my life. I am just going to put it in a box and forget what happened. I don't want it to get worse.'"

Weinstein's lawyers have sought to cast doubt on the claims of his accusers by pointing out that several of them sent him friendly and even "loving" messages in the years after, particularly singling out communications sent by Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann.

"Sometimes women will have subsequent contact with the perpetrator because they can't really believe that this happened to them," Ziv said. "They're hoping that this is just an aberration. You hear that all the time."

In Sciorra's case, Weinstein's lead lawyer Donna Rotunno pressed her on Thursday about her behavior immediately after she says the rape occurred. "When you woke up, did you go to the police?" she asked. "No," the actress replied. "When you woke up, did you go to the doctor?" "No." "When you woke up, did you go to the hospital?" "No."

But on Friday, Ziv told jurors that it's a myth that "one can determine whether someone has been raped by their behavior." She added, "There are a whole range of behaviors, none of which tells you whether a sexual assault occurred."

At the beginning of her testimony, Ziv clarified that she is a "blind expert" who would not speak specifically about the Weinstein case or the individuals who have accused him of sexual assault.

She was paid for "her time" by the People of the State of New York, she said under questioning from lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi.