As Harvey Weinstein faces a new trial in Los Angeles on multiple rape and sexual assault charges, a prosecutor has alleged a series of graphic rapes in hotel rooms and a group of women who were terrified by Weinstein’s power in Hollywood.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles announced on Monday that eight women would testify about Weinstein’s alleged crimes, including Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and actor who is currently married to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom.
Siebel Newsom alleges that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2005 during what she believed to be a business meeting. At the time, she was a young actor attempting to advance her career.
Weinstein’s defence attorney, Mark Waksman, stated in his opening statement that the case’s accusers either “made up” the assaults or engaged in transactional sex with the once-powerful film producer.
The current first lady of California presented herself as a #metoo victim to avoid being perceived as “just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to advance in Hollywood.”
“You will not see a single eyewitness to any sexual assault claim,” Werksman informed the jury. “Each and every one of these allegations will boil down to the accusers saying ‘believe me’ at their core.”
Weinstein has said that all of his sexual encounters with women were voluntary and pleaded not guilty to the new charges.
Both the prosecution and defence made it clear in their opening statements that the trial would focus on the continued interactions the alleged victims had with Weinstein in the years following their assaults.
The prosecutor, Paul Thompson, stated that the jury would hear testimony from a doctor who works with sexual assault victims regarding misconceptions about how people behave after being raped, including the number of people who are raped by someone they know and who continue to communicate with their attacker after the attack.
In court documents, Weinstein’s current accusers are referred to as Jane Does One through Five to conceal their identities. Siebel Newsom’s lawyer has talked about her planned testimony as “Jane Doe 4” in public, and Thompson has brought up the name of her husband in court.
While the District Attorney’s Office had previously stated that nine women would testify in the case, Jane Doe 5 was not mentioned in the prosecutor’s opening statements, which referred to the testimony of only eight women. The Causes of This Change Were Not Immediately Obvious.
Four of Weinstein’s 11 indictments, including two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault, involved a woman who was not mentioned in the prosecution’s opening statement. The Los Angeles Times said that Jane Doe 5’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, wouldn’t say anything about the omission.
Thompson said that Weinstein attacked several women while they were crying, and that one woman tried to stop him by showing him pictures of her children during the attack.
The first witness at the trial was a European actor and model named “Jane Doe 1” in court documents. She said that Weinstein showed up unexpectedly at her hotel room in Los Angeles during an Italian film festival, asked for a massage, and then forced her to do oral sex.
She testified that she repeatedly asked Weinstein to leave, stating that she could not have sex with him because she had three children, and that during the encounter she began crying and choking. She told Thompson how Weinstein reacted to her crying, and she responded, “He didn’t care.”
Lisa Lench of the La Superior Court was the judge in charge. On Monday afternoon, court was cancelled because the first witness was crying as she talked about the attack.
The prosecution says that other witnesses will talk about the same pattern of unprovoked attacks in hotel rooms, especially in hotel room bathrooms.
According to Thompson, Siebel Newsom was a “powerless actor trying to make it in Hollywood” in 2005 when Harvey Weinstein invited her to a business meeting and then raped her.
Thompson stated that Siebel Newsom was invited to a hotel to “discuss her career,” but was surprised when the meeting was moved to a private suite and Weinstein’s business associates left abruptly.
Then, she says, Weinstein called her into a bathroom, asked her to touch him, and made her lie down on a bed.
Siebel Newsom was crying and shaking during the assault, and she “could not speak due to her fear,” according to Thompson.
The prosecutor alleged that a third woman, a celebrity masseuse, went into a bathroom to wash her hands after giving Weinstein a massage. Weinstein then followed her into the bathroom, groped her, and masturbated on the floor.
Weinstein Told The Masseuse Thompson stated, “It was completely normal, as he had done it with so many others.”
Thompson says that the masseuse is also expected to say that Weinstein told her “it will cost you” and made her watch him masturbate when her new boss asked her to introduce him to Weinstein.
The defence attorney, Werksman, stated in his opening statement that the trial simply demonstrated that “in Hollywood, Sex was a commodity” and that the “transactional sex” described in the trial “may have been unpleasant and embarrassing… However, it was voluntary.”
Weinstein was rolled into court in a wheelchair by deputies on Monday. His reaction to the graphic descriptions of his alleged rapes and assaults was minimal.
One of the potential witnesses who may testify at the trial is Mel Gibson, whom prosecutors claim was a friend of one of the defendants.
If found guilty of all charges in Los Angeles, Weinstein faces up to 140 years in prison.
In New York, Weinstein is appealing his conviction for rape and sexual assault from 2020, and he has already served over two years of his 23-year sentence. In this case, the state’s highest court has agreed to hear his appeal.