Jennifer Siebel Newsom, filmmaker and wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, took the podium at Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial in Los Angeles on Monday, sometimes breaking down in tears as she alleged he raped her in a hotel room in 2005.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault, including four counts of rape, four counts of forced oral copulation, forcible sexual penetration and restraint sexual assault in incidents dating from 2004 to 2013.
Siebel Newsom was being questioned by the defense team when the judge halted the proceedings for the day. He will resume his testimony Tuesday morning.
Earlier, Siebel Newsom, the fourth accuser to testify, said she was “a little nervous” and emotional soon after taking the stand.
When asked by prosecutor Marlene Martinez if she could see Weinstein in court on Monday, Siebel Newsom broke down in tears and said “yes” into the microphone with a shaky voice.
“He’s wearing a blue suit and tie and he’s staring at me,” she said.
She told the court that she met the media mogul when she was 31 in 2005 while out at a bar with other industry friends during the Toronto Film Festival. “There was a big person coming towards me and I felt like everyone backed down,” she recalled, saying, “I felt like the Red Sea was parting.”
He then introduced himself and asked her to meet him later to continue their conversation because he had a meeting, he testified.
“I felt like I had to go meet him… maybe he’ll give me some good advice… I thought there was genuine interest in talking to me about my work,” she said, adding that she and a friend met with Weinstein. . in a different hotel bar.
Weinstein “was really focused on telling me that I was special,” Siebel Newsom told the court, adding that Weinstein told him he wished he could stay and talk some more, but he had to catch a flight to New York.
She said Weinstein contacted her in late September 2005 when he was in Los Angeles and she lived in the West Hollywood neighborhood. She stopped by a party she was hosting for five minutes and, according to Siebel Newsom, said, “I’ll get in touch, I’d like to have dinner with you or have a drink or something and continue the conversation. We can talk about his film projects.”
He called her and invited her to a hotel where an attendant told him the meeting would be in Weinstein’s suite, she testified. After she arrived, Weinstein or an aide told everyone in the room to leave, he told the court.
She described Weinstein as uninterested in hearing about his projects. “She abruptly stood up and said: I’m going to make myself more comfortable,” she said.
According to his testimony, Weinstein was in a hallway, leaning over while wearing a robe. “Can you help me?” she says he asked.
“Then I saw that he was touching himself and he grabbed me,” she told the jury as she began to cry.
He was aggressive and she tried to back off, she said.
Weinstein softened his approach, testified, but ultimately picked her up or dragged her into the room and raped her.
When asked by a prosecutor why she stayed in the hotel suite, she said: “Because you don’t say no to Harvey Weinstein. He could make or break your career. I thought he was going to discuss my projects ”.
Siebel Newsom said she did not tell anyone that night or call police about the incident.
“I was so raped and I don’t know how that happened,” she said through tears. “I didn’t see the clues and I didn’t know how to escape.”
Defense attorney Mark Werksman said in his opening statement Oct. 24 that Siebel Newsom had consensual sex with Weinstein because he wanted his help landing roles and producing movies.
He targeted her in particular, attacking her credibility using crude language.
“She has become a prominent victim in the #MeToo movement…otherwise she would be just another chump who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood,” Werksman said.
On Monday, he spent some time focused on whether the governor, whom Siebel Newsom married in 2008, knew of the alleged rape at the time he accepted Weinstein’s campaign contributions. Siebel Newsom said she asked campaign staff to ask Weinstein for money, but Newsom returned the funds “immediately” in October 2017 after finding out something happened.
“I told him that Harvey was incomplete at different times, and he realized it himself when he met him,” he testified.
Weinstein is charged with forced oral copulation and forcible rape of Jane Doe 4 between Sept. 1, 2004 and Sept. 30, 2005, according to court documents. Jane Doe 4 has been identified as Siebel Newsom.
Siebel Newsom is a Stanford University graduate who has written, directed, and produced several documentaries, including “Miss Representation,” “The Mask You Live In,” and “The Great American Lie.” During her time as California’s first partner, Siebel Newsom advocated for working mothers and launched initiatives focused on closing the gender pay gap, among other efforts.
The trial in California is her second such sexual assault case since she reported it. The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017 revealed Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual abuse, harassment and secret deals as he used his influence as a Hollywood power broker to take advantage of young women.
Weinstein was convicted in 2020 in New York of first degree criminal sexual act and third degree rape and was sentenced to 23 years in prison. He has maintained his innocence, and the New York Supreme Court agreed in August to hear his appeal in the case.