An attorney for Harvey Weinstein questioned an accuser Wednesday about the disgraced movie producer’s deformed genitalia, asking her if she “changed her story” of the alleged 2013 attack after she learned he’d had surgery that removed his testicles from his scrotum.
An Italian model of Russian descent, the woman told lawyer Alan Jackson, “I never changed my story” and said in broken English that she “described that he had a problem, that it wasn’t the testicles but it was a part of him.” Jackson read aloud graphic descriptions the woman gave police in 2017 of Weinstein allegedly forcing her to perform oral sex. The woman implied in her answers that she didn’t purposely omit anything from her grand jury testimony that she told police, but she wasn’t asked about certain details in the grand jury proceeding that she shared with detectives.
“When the people interview, when the detective interview, I’m talking. In the grand jury testimony, they ask questions,” she said.
The testimony was not the first time an accuser has described Weinstein’s genitalia in courtroom, as it was a key focus in his 2020 New York trial. Identified in court only as Jane Doe 1, the woman finished testifying about 4:16 p.m. on Wednesday after taking the stand as the first witness Monday afternoon. She broke down in sobs during early questioning from Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson but went on to withstand two full days of testimony, including about a day and a half of cross-examination from Jackson.
Jane Doe 1 is one of four alleged victims behind the eight sexual assault related charges that Weinstein faces, after prosecutors dropped a fifth accuser from the case shortly before trial began.
Already serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault convictions out of New York, the 70-year-old Weinstein faces a potential life sentence if convicted in California.
Four other woman are set to testify as “prior bad act” witnesses, though Weinstein’s lawyers have argued that another witness, Weinstein’s former personal assistant Rowena Chiu, should also be considered a prior bad act witness instead of a witness who will testify about Weinstein’s knowledge and understanding of consent. She has publicly said that Weinstein tried to rape her in 1998.
Jackson’s law partner Mark Werksman emphatically compared prosecutors’ use of Chiu as a witness to “Icarus..about to fly to close to the sun with his wings of wax” and warned Los Angeles County Superior Court Lisa B. Lench her allowance of it could be “is what’s going to cause a real problem if there’s a conviction in this case.”
The judge declined to change her ruling, so Chiu is expected to testify about what Werksman referred to as a “slobbering apology” Weinstein allegedly made to her while finalizing a settlement over the incident. Werksman said the nature of the settlement is bound to come in, but Lench reiterated Tuesday that there will be “no financial description of settlements.”
Meanwhile, Jane Doe 1 answered questions all day Tuesday and Wednesday, focused on her visit to Los Angeles in February 2013 for the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival, where she saw Weinstein after initially meeting him earlier in Rome. She testified he showed up at her hotel uninvited and entered her room, then forced her to perform oral sex on his limp penis before leading her into the bathroom and raping her over a sink while telling her to tell him she liked it.
Werksman said in his opening that the woman completely fabricated the encounter. In his cross on Wednesday, Jackson asked if she had photos or video of her injuries from the alleged assault. She said she didn’t.
“You think somebody after rape making video of themselves?” she asked.
“Nothing you can show this jury that corroborates you were even with Harvey Weinstein that night?” Jackson asked.
“I had his jacket, but I gave away,” the woman answered tearfully. She’s earlier testified that Weinstein left his suit coat behind, describing how she contacted film festival organizer Pascal Vicedomini and the coat ended up with the hotel lost and found.
Jackson asked the woman on Wednesday if she had a relationship with Vicedomini, but Judge Lench sustained an objection from Thompson so the woman never answered. She previously said she and Vicedominin were only “close friends.”
Jackson challenged her testimony by displaying Facebook and text messages between she and Vicedominin, including an exchange about a visit to her hotel in which she said “I’m waiting for you…” and he responded, “On my way, love.”
She pushed back against the questioning by saying Italians often call each other “mi amor” or “my love.”
The woman said she visited a doctor after the assault. Jackson asked her about an interview with Los Angeles police in which she said she visited a doctor in Italy about a week after the assault to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases because Weinstein didn’t use a condom, but she only told the doctor she had unprotected sex, not that she was raped. The questioning, however, was unexplainably stopped by Judge Lench, who called the attorneys to the bench before Jackson resumed questioning. The woman then testified she had remained in Los Angeles a few weeks after the incident, so maybe she got the timing of her doctor visit during her police interview.
“I can’t see no doctor here. I don’t have no doctor here … I was living in Rome,” she said.
Jackson then went over the woman’s attempts to contact the doctor who examined her in Italy, and her claims to police that he wouldn’t cooperate. She said she didn’t remember, but after Jackson handed her a document to review, she testified, “I contact him in Facebook and privately because he was saying he doesn’t have any records of that period … I was saying please it’s really important for me and he said I don’t want to be involved.” She then said she visited two different doctors and told Jackson she couldn’t remember if she’d spoken of the second visit in police interviews or prior grand testimony.
She also confirmed she’d reported Weinstein to police after the New York Times articles about Weinstein published in October 2017, but she claimed the media blitz was “not massive.”
Jackson also displayed a photo the woman or her public relations team posted to Instagram of her smiling with Al Pacino, with the caption “Mr. Al Pacino” followed by a few smiley emojis. Jackson notes it was posted after she “claims she was brutally raped by Harvey Weinstein.”
“I spoke to my PR team management … I was trying to act like nothing happened,” she said.
The photos was among several Jackson questioned her about as he tried to show her good mood and relaxed demeanor in the weeks following the alleged assault. In two, the woman is with Quentin Tarantino and Christoph Waltz at the 2013 Italia Film Festival, and in another she’s hugging Tarantino with Waltz and Weinstein in the frame. The woman repeatedly replied that she had to keep up a good appearance for her career, and said she didn’t know The Weinstein Company hosted the Golden Globes party she attended in 2017.
“Had you seen the Weinstein Company you would have turned around and gone the other way?” Jackson asked.
“Of course not,” she answered, saying she was with her friends. “I cannot say to my friends anything, so I have to go.”
Jackson also questioned the woman about a fire alarm he said blared in her hotel room at 12:41 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2013, the night she says Weinstein raped her. He never provide evidence of the alarm, but he told her it sounded for four minutes at “basically the same time Mr. Weinstein was in your room … raping you.”
“You think you would remember that fire alarm?” he asked. She pushed back on the suggestion that the alarm happened during the attack, also saying she never left her room for an evacuation.
“You didn’t hear the fire alarm because you weren’t in your room at 12:41 a.m.” on that night, Jackson said.
Thompson began his redirect about 3:43 p.m.
When he asked how she felt after three days on the stand, the woman said she’s exhausted, barely eating or sleeping and she’s having severe panic attacks.
“It’s really uncomfortable to speak about this thing in front of strangers, it’s really painful that my kids are reading this,” she said.
Thompson went over a transcript of the woman’s first police interview in which she said of Weinstein, “Under his stomach, belly, he have a very scarring tissue. It doesn’t look like from surgery it’s not straight scars it is kind of messed up and very bad scarring tissue.”
Thompson asked her to describe Weinstein’s body beneath his penis.
“He’s circumcised. He had area like with empty skin and it was like or he have just one testicles or it just going cause he was adjusting with his hand it’s like discomfort its like probably like his testicles coming up or he didn’t have a testicle,” she testified.
Asked why she didn’t call for help, she said. “All these years I’m feeling very guilty that,” she said, trailing off.
“I did punish myself a lot. I regret that I didn’t fight that I didn’t stand up for myself. I can do better,” she continued.
Jackson did not ask any questions for re-cross, and the woman left the witness stand about 4:16 p.m. after Judge Lench told her she could be called to testify again.
Trial resumes Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Los Angeles.
This article is compiled in part from a pool report organized by The Associated Press. Wednesday’s reports were by James Queally of the Los Angeles Times.
[Image: Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
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