Jennifer Siebel Newsom testifies against Harvey Weinstein

Jennifer Siebel Newsom took the stand Monday at Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial and was expected to accuse the fallen Hollywood mogul of raping her when she was a struggling actress nearly 20 years ago.

An emotional Siebel Newsom told a jury in downtown Los Angeles that when she met Weinstein at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, she was a 31-year-old actress and filmmaker who saw him as “the top of the industry.” “. At the time, she said, she had not yet met her husband, Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Asked by a prosecutor to identify Weinstein in the courtroom, Siebel Newsom covered her face with her hands, sobbed and wiped away tears before pointing at him at the defense table.

“He’s looking at me,” she said.

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court in Los Angeles

Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles on October 4.

(Etienne Laurent / Associated Press)

At the film festival, she said, she was talking to friends in a bar when she noticed “everyone recoiled” when Weinstein approached her and introduced himself.

“I felt like the Red Sea was parting,” he recalled. “I don’t know if it was deference or fear.”

She said she found Weinstein both charming and intimidating, but was flattered that he seemed curious about her fledgling career.

Weinstein asked to meet her later that night at a hotel bar, she testified and went there with a friend. The judge overseeing the trial paused for lunch before questions about sexual assault were raised.

Siebel Newsom seemed eager to testify Monday morning, but she was also visibly nervous. At one point, she paused and told the court: “I’m sorry, I just need to take a deep breath.”

The governor escorted Siebel Newsom to court, but the court did not allow him into the courtroom for his testimony, an aide to Newsom said.

As his trial enters its fourth week, Weinstein has already faced scathing testimony from six different women who say he used his influence to isolate them in hotel rooms and assault them in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Puerto Rico and Toronto. Many of the women had told their stories in detail before in other court cases or through the media, but Siebel Newsom’s allegations against Weinstein have remained largely hidden for years.

The women in the case are testifying anonymously, and The Times does not name sexual assault victims unless they have spoken publicly or asked to be identified. siebel newsom accused Weinstein of abuse in a 2017 Huffington Post essay that came just days after mainstream media began publishing information about rape allegations against the Miramax co-founder. But his involvement in the Los Angeles trial was not widely known until The Times first reported it last month.

Siebel Newsom was an aspiring actress when she alleges Weinstein assaulted her in a Los Angeles hotel. During her opening statement, Los Angeles County District Deputy. Lawyer Paul Thompson said Weinstein had summoned Siebel Newsom to a meeting at a Beverly Hills hotel to discuss her acting career. Several attendants were in the room when she arrived, but they left quickly, Thompson said.

After a professional discussion, Weinstein excused himself and went to the bathroom. He returned in a bathrobe and made a pass at Siebel Newsom. Weinstein began talking about the women whose world-class acting careers he had launched in a tone that “went from pleading to aggressive and demanding,” Thompson said, but Siebel Newsom brushed him off.

Then, Thompson alleged, Weinstein pushed Siebel Newsom onto a bed, orally forced himself on her, and then raped her.

Weinstein is charged with 11 counts of rape and sexual assault stemming from allegations made by five women who say he assaulted them in Los Angeles-area hotels between 2004 and 2013. Three of the women whose allegations prompted charges in the Los Angeles trial they already testified.

Prosecutors have not mentioned Jane Doe 5 throughout their presentation of evidence. Weinstein’s defense team has asked Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench to dismiss all four counts related to her indictment if she will not testify. Lench has refused to do so and Thompson has not commented on the woman’s status in the case.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said the prosecution is having “witness availability issues” with Jane Doe 5, as she lives out of the country and cannot be brought to court by subpoena. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the situation.

If convicted in Los Angeles, Weinstein would face a de facto life sentence. Weinstein was also convicted of rape in a 2020 trial in New York City and sentenced to 23 years in prison there.

The tycoon has denied all wrongdoing. His defense attorneys, Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson, have aggressively questioned their accusers during cross-examination in recent weeks. Werksman has said that the assaults described in Jane Does 1 and 2 never occurred and claimed that some of the other accusers, including Siebel Newsom, engaged in “transactional sex” with Weinstein to further his Hollywood careers.

“The accusers in this case, women who willingly played the game by the rules that applied at the time, will come to this courtroom now, with their lawyers in tow, and will claim that they were raped and sexually assaulted,” Werksman said during its opening. statement. “They have to lie to themselves…to make what they consensually did back then look like it was forced on them.”

In perhaps the most impressive moment of the trial so far, Werksman also said that Siebel Newsom is engaging in revisionist history in order to present himself as a victim in the case. Otherwise, she said, she would be “just another chump who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”

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