NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two women who have accused former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct are expected to take the stand in his rape trial on Wednesday.
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 29, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The women, costume designer Dawn Dunning and model and former cocktail waitress Tarale Wulff, are not among the women Weinstein is charged with assaulting. But they are two of three women who prosecutors are calling to bolster their case against Weinstein by trying to provide evidence of his motives or methods.
Dunning has accused Weinstein of groping her and offering her roles in exchange for sex. Prosecutors have said Weinstein lured Wulff into his home under the pretense of reading a script and then raped her.
“As a former prosecutor myself, I have no doubt that Ms. Wulff will be a highly credible witness with a disturbing and compelling account of what she was forced to endure at the hands of Harvey Weinstein,” her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, said in a statement last week.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi and Jessica Mann. Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
The accusations fueled the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct. Weinstein’s trial is widely seen as an important milestone in the movement.
Weinstein, who produced “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.
Jurors in the trial have already heard from Haleyi, who worked as a production assistant on the television show “Project Runway.” She testified on Monday that Weinstein invited her to his Manhattan home in July 2006 and attacked her, backing her into a bedroom and forcing oral sex on her.
They have also heard from actress Annabella Sciorra, known for her role on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” who testified last week that Weinstein forced his way into her Manhattan apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994 and violently raped her.
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.
Weinstein’s lawyers have sought to undermine the women’s allegations through cross-examination, emphasizing that Sciorra did not report her alleged rape to authorities and that Haleyi remained in contact with Weinstein after her alleged assault, at times asking him for jobs.
Mann, a former aspiring actress, has not yet testified. Prosecutors have said Weinstein raped her in 2013.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Sonya Hepinstall and Jonathan Oatis