Epstein & Weinstein. Sounds like a law firm – such is the power of stereotypes – but those are the current names of America’s most egregious dirt-bags. Just reading about their lecherous lives can disgust you. It also reveals how the rich and famous pursue perversion on a global scale.
In France, a noted pervert by the name of Gabriel Matzneff is causing that nation to reflect on its value system. Matzneff, 83, infamously preached the joys pedophilia and was celebrated by French elite for his openness and scholarship. He is presently hiding on the Italian Riviera to avoid possible arrest now that one of his early victims wrote a book of her degradation at his hands starting at age 14. He often sang the praises of sex with underage Filipino boys, some as young as 8.
Recall that other French lecher, banker Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who allegedly ravished a hotel maid while on business in New York City. His story was “adopted” by NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which replaced him with a fictional Italian diplomat. What gall!
There is a growing list of elite dirt-bags, from TV journalist Charlie Rose to restaurateur Mario Batali. The latest Italian American entry into that category is attorney Michael Avenatti. Not quite a lecher, Avenatti is into extortion and theft.
Back in 2018, Avenatti was the darling of the media. Using a lawsuit by his client, porn star Stormy Daniels as his media grabber, Avenatti not only threatened to prove President Trump a lecher but to destroy his presidency. As I wrote in my August 18th blog that year, many in the media hoped Avenatti would “save our democracy.” As luck would have it, Avenatti is currently in a Manhattan jail awaiting sentencing for extorting Nike. This summer he has two more trials to endure for stealing money from Stormy Daniels and from another client who is handicapped.
In the matter of Harvey Weinstein, his current trial in Manhattan has some Italian American connections. One of Harvey’s alleged victims is actress Annabella Sciorra, who claims he raped her. Ms. Sciorra played Tony Soprano’s mistress during the 3rd season of The Sopranos and starred in Spike Lee’s anti-Italic film Jungle Fever, as the lover of a Black character (Wesley Snipes) and daughter of a racist Italian father (Frank Vincent). Her on-screen persona may have confused Weinstein in real life.
The opposing sides in the Weinstein trial are Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi for the prosecution and Donna Rotunno for the defense. These two Italic professionals are duking it out with the full confidence of their respective sides. The Staten Island-born Illuzzi coincidentally prosecuted the aforementioned Strauss-Kahn in 2011, a case that was dismissed due to questions about the victim’s credibility. But, Illuzzi successfully convicted the murderer of 6-year old Etan Patz, a famous cold case that went unsolved for forty years.
Weinstein has all his chips on attorney Donna Rotunno, a Chicagoan who has specialized in defending men in sexual misconduct cases – some forty, to date. Although single (and straight), she doesn’t subscribe to the #MeToo movement. She is truly passionate about women taking responsibility for risky behavior. To Annabella Sciorra, she pointedly asked why she opened her door to Harvey Weinstein wearing only a cotton nightgown when she supposedly didn’t know it was he at the door. Last December, Rotunno admonished all women in an ABC-TV interview: “If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t go to the hotel room,” Good advice, but it’s coming from an attorney who admittedly doesn’t date.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that President Donald Trump is considered a dirt-bag by half the country – both for his recorded chauvinist behavior and his political machinations. Those of you who tuned into the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate saw that two of his attorneys were Italian Americans. Pat (Pasquale) Cipollone is the White House Counsel who kept Trump from testifying before the House. He is Bronx-born, son of an Italian immigrant. He has ten children and is a devout Catholic. Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham credits him for her conversion to Catholicism. Cipollone’s deputy is Michael Purpura, a West Point graduate, who fends off congressional subpoenas for Trump.
Even “dirt-bags” are innocent until proven guilty. -JLM