A forensic psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution in the trial of Bill Cosby will be a witness for the prosecution at Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial scheduled for September.
Dr. Barbara Ziv, a professor at Temple University and a member of the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board for nearly 20 years, confirmed to CNN she will be a witness for the prosecution in the Weinstein case after documents previously withheld from the public were unsealed by New York’s Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The movie mogul, whose downfall sparked the #MeToo movement, is accused of raping a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
He faces five felony charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. A sixth felony charge was dismissed in October after a New York police detective was found to have mishandled evidence.
Weinstein has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex made against him and has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
Cosby, the 81-year-old comedy icon, was sentenced in September to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago.
At Cosby’s trial, Ziv testified about how sexual assault victims behave, saying that “delayed reporting” to authorities is the norm, not the exception.
“Delayed reporting can go from days to weeks to months to years,” she said then. “We blame victims for not being the kind of victim that we think they should be. It’s part of the rape myth that victims report promptly and display a certain set of symptoms.”
In their case against Weinstein, prosecutors plan to use Ziv for two purposes, their notice of expert testimony, a document filed with the court in January but unsealed Tuesday, outlines.
First, they plan to have Ziv testify about information beyond the average juror’s knowledge: Why victims may delay disclosing a sexual assault, factors that determine whether and how a victim may interact with their attacker after an assault has happened, and why a victim may lack signs of an outward trauma after an assault.
And just as she did in the Cosby trial, prosecutors say Ziv’s testimony in the Weinstein case “is necessary to dispel several myths about sexual assault that continue to be prevalent even in today’s society,” according to their filing. Those myths, the DA’s office say, include: victims are usually raped by strangers, they promptly report an assault to authorities, that they display symptoms of trauma and finally, that victims never communicate with their attackers.
On the state of sexual assault
Ziv sat down with CNN’s Jean Casarez in March to discuss the public’s current perceptions concerning sexual assault, based on her three decades of experience in forensic psychiatry as well as her research and writing. Ziv spoke in general terms and did not speak about Weinstein’s criminal case.
Ziv said she believes that the general public needs to be better educated on what constitutes all aspects of sexual assault.
She said she’s “frustrated by hearing people render opinions about a very complex topic that they don’t know about.”
“I think that it does a disservice to everybody. I think it does a disservice to victims, I think it does a disservice to individuals who have been accused, to be evaluated by individuals who don’t know what they’re looking at, who are relying on a hunch or an instinct with their best guess,” Ziv said.
She added that women who are victims of sexual assault often don’t come forward “because they are vilified and their character and appearance and everything about them comes under question just as a result of making an allegation, something that doesn’t happen in any other crime.”
Benjamin Brafman, a prominent New York defense lawyer who no longer represents Harvey Weinstein in his criminal sexual assault case, filed a motion to dismiss charges against the disgraced movie mogul in August of last year.
In the filing, Brafman cited, among other things, the discovery of evidence that the grand jury was not shown – specifically “dozens of emails” sent from one of Weinstein’s anonymous accusers, characterized as “extensive warm, complimentary and solicitous messages to Mr. Weinstein immediately following the now claimed event and over the next four year period.”
“These communications irrefutably reflect the true nature of this consensual intimate friendship, which never at any time included a forcible rape,” Brafman told CNN at the time.
Ziv, speaking to CNN in March, said victims don’t immediately avoid their attackers.
“The norm is to have continued contact at least in some form over some period of time. Some people actually continue a relationship.”
When someone you know sexually abuses you, it says that you have no meaning to the attacker, Ziv explained.
“If your interpretation is that this person with whom I had what I thought was a good relationship, who I respected, who respected me, we had fun together, whatever it is, sexually assaults me, it means, if I accept that, that means that I have to accept that I had no worth to that person. That’s a very tough pill for anybody to swallow.”
#MeToo, now what?
Weinstein, once synonymous with Hollywood, began his epic fall from power two years ago when some 80 women publicly accused the former film executive of wrongdoing ranging from unwanted advances to rape.
The conversation became a movement and has spread from Hollywood to the high court, but Ziv said she doesn’t think the movement has done much to move the conversation forward – to understand what sexual assault is, who perpetrators are, and how women who have been sexually assaulted act.
“Not only does the MeToo movement not educate about why people – why perpetrators or victims – behave in the way that they do, in a way it can serve as, I think, sort of a shield behind which women and some men can sort of hide behind and not push the conversation forward,” she told CNN in March.
“It almost has become distorted to the point where if I say ‘MeToo’ then OK, then you just have to believe me, too.
“I think that that does a disservice to everybody, to individuals who’ve been accused of sexual assault as well as victims of sexual assault.”
Unless the MeToo movement becomes more “mature and more sophisticated,” Ziv said that is going to be the movement’s ultimate downfall.
“Just as you should not take anybody at their word for anything when there’s an allegation of criminal behavior, that’s why we have investigators.”
And that’s one place Weinstein’s new lead attorney Jose Baez agrees with the prosecutorial witness.
Speaking to press after making his first court appearance in this case in January, he said, “I think this case is testing the presumption of innocence in our country. And you have a man who needs to stand trial for these specific acts and he should be entitled to the same presumption as everyone else.”
Ziv has been qualified as an expert in more than 200 civil and criminal cases, and has testified for both prosecution and defense teams.
CNN’s Aaron Cooper, Jason Hanna and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.