NEW YORK (Reuters) – A onetime aspiring actress told a Manhattan jury on Friday that Harvey Weinstein invited her to his hotel room to read a movie script and then, after saying he was going to “do something for her,” the former Hollywood producer sexually assaulted her.
Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Criminal Court for his sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to raping Jessica Mann and to sexually assaulting another woman, Mimi Haleyi. Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
Weinstein has said any sexual encounters were consensual.
The trial is widely seen as a milestone in the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct.
Mann, now 34, testified that she met Weinstein in late 2012 or early 2013 at a party in Los Angeles and that he told her he was interested in her as an actress.
After several meetings, Mann testified that Weinstein invited her and her friend to a hotel suite in Los Angeles to look at a script for a vampire movie. When they arrived at the suite, Mann said, Weinstein pulled her into a bedroom, leaving her friend outside.
There, she said, Weinstein told her, “I’m not letting you leave until I do something for you.” Her voice shaking, Mann told the jurors Weinstein told her to sit on the bed and performed oral sex on her.
Mann said she pretended to have an orgasm so he would stop, and that he then asked her if she had enjoyed it.
“I was nervous so I told him, ‘oh, it was the best I ever had,’” she said.
Weinstein is not charged with the alleged incident that Mann described, but he is accused of raping her at a later time.
Damon Cheronis, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, said in his opening statement that communications between Mann and Weinstein would show that their relationship was entirely consensual.
Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast has said that Mann made “a decision that had disastrous consequences for her” and decided to have a relationship with Weinstein because she felt “trapped.”
Jurors in the trial have already heard from Haleyi, who said Weinstein forced oral sex on her in his home in 2006, as well as from actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein violently raped her in her apartment in 1993 or 1994.
While Sciorra’s allegation is too old to support a separate rape charge against Weinstein, prosecutors hope it will show he is a repeat sexual predator – a charge that could put him in prison for life.
Two women who are not part of the criminal charges, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff, have also testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted them. Prosecutors are offering their testimony as evidence of Weinstein’s methods and motives.
A third such witness, Lauren Young, is expected to testify later in the trial.
Weinstein, who produced films including “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; writing by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler