Maxwell Puts Weinstein’s ‘False Memory’ Expert on Witness List
(Bloomberg) -- Ghislaine Maxwell has proposed calling as a defense witness a psychologist who testified at Harvey Weinstein’s trial that victims’ memories of sexual abuse were often unreliable.
Elizabeth Loftus, a University of California at Irvine professor, was included in a list of potential witnesses submitted by Maxwell’s lawyers. Loftus has testified for the defense in more than 300 trials, including those of Ted Bundy and O.J. Simpson. At Weinstein’s trial, she tried to cast doubt on the memory of actor Annabella Sciorra, who said the movie producer raped her in the early 1990s.
Maxwell also listed Park Dietz, a prominent forensic psychiatrist better-known as a prosecution expert in the trials of Jeffrey Dahmer, “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski and would-be Ronald Reagan assassin John Hinckley Jr. It’s not yet clear if either will actually be called by Maxwell, who is set to go on trial Nov. 29 on charges that she engaged in a sex-trafficking scheme with her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein.
Loftus’s research into memory has led to her being hailed as the most influential female psychologist of the last century, but her recent appearances on behalf of Weinstein, Bill Cosby and others have made her controversial. “If the MeToo movement had an office, Beth’s picture would be on the ten-most-wanted list,” her brother Robert told the New Yorker in a March profile.
During Weinstein’s trial, Loftus testified that people’s memories can become distorted over time and strong emotions around a memory were no guarantee of its accuracy. She apparently didn’t sway the jury -- Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape in 2020 and is currently serving a 23-year sentence.
Prosecutors asked for time to determine if they’d object to Maxwell’s proposed experts but also said they want to call Lisa Rocchio, a forensic psychologist who recently testified at the murder trial of woman who said she was abused by her partner. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan has set a Nov. 10 hearing on the government’s experts and whether the defense can raise questions about victims’ past sexual histories.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.