NEW YORK (AP) — A key accuser in Harvey Weinstein’s trial testified Friday that he raped her twice, once bellowing, “You owe me!” as he dragged her into a bedroom.
The first time, the heavyset Hollywood tycoon trapped her in a New York hotel room in March 2013, angrily ordered her to undress as he loomed over her, and then raped her, she told jurors.
Still, she kept in touch, sending him flattering emails, because “his ego was so fragile,” she said, and it “made me feel safe, worshipping him in this sense. … I wanted to be perceived as innocent and naive.”
Then, eight months later at a Los Angeles hotel where she worked as a hairdresser, she told Weinstein that she was dating an actor, she said.
“You owe me one more time!” he screamed, she told jurors. She said she begged him not to take off her clothes, but he said, “I don’t have time for games” and ripped off her pants before pushing her legs apart and raping her.
Afterward, she said, she crawled into the bathroom, her eyes red and swollen from tears, and worried that he’d get angry if he knew she was crying.
“OK, now go have your relationship,” he told her, according to her testimony. His apology: “I just find you so attractive, I couldn’t resist.”
The 34-year-old woman’s testimony, which is set to continue Monday,is a pivotal moment in the rape case against the once-powerful movie producer who became one of the #MeToo movement’s top targets. He is charged in New York with the March 2013 rape and also sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi, a former “Project Runway” production assistant, in 2006. A conviction could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
Weinstein, 67, has insisted that any sexual encounters were consensual. His lawyers aim to raise doubts about the rape accuser’s credibility by seizing on her complicated history with the former film producer.
The defense says the woman sent Weinstein warm emails that said things like “Miss you, big guy.” Not once, in more than 400 messages between the two, did the woman accuse Weinstein of harming her, his lawyers have said.
Asked by a prosecutor to describe Weinstein’s body, the woman said that when she first saw him naked, she noticed “extreme scarring” on his stomach and thought he had characteristics of both male and female genitalia.
“When I first saw him, I was filled with compassion, absolute compassion,” she said, adding, “It seemed his anger came from a place of pain.”
As he left the courtroom, Weinstein was asked if the description of body was accurate.
“Yeah, perfect,” he said, sarcastically. One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Arthur Aidala, said it wasn’t accurate.
Asked why she didn’t break off contact with Weinstein at the first sign of trouble, the woman testified she didn’t want to offend him. But defense lawyer Donna Rotunno asked whether it was really because the woman “wanted to benefit from the power he had.”
The woman responded that her relationship with the then-married Weinstein was more complicated than that.
The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of sexual assault accusers without their consent. It is withholding name of the rape accuser because it isn’t clear if she wishes to be identified publicly.
The woman testified that she met Weinstein at a party in late 2012 or early 2013 after she moved from Washington state to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
The producer behind such Oscar-winning films as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction” offered to help her, she said, asking her to meet him at a bookstore to learn about movie-business history.
“I thought it was a blessing,” she said.
Later, what she thought was a professional dinner at a Los Angeles hotel ended up in his suite, she testified. She said she thought Weinstein just wanted to avoid public attention, but he pressured her into giving him a massage on the bed with his shirt off.
At another point, he invited her and friend to a hotel suite to give them a script after telling them he wanted to cast them in a vampire film, the woman said.
“Oh, no. I know what that means,” she said she told him. “And he laughed at me and said, ‘I am a harmless old man.'”
Weinstein started undressing, went into a bedroom and called for her. When she went to find out what he wanted, he grabbed her arm, closed the door and started “trying to kiss me like crazy,” she said.
She said she tussled with him, and he grew increasingly angry and said: “I’m not letting you leave until I do something for you.” He then performed oral sex on her, she told jurors, her voice breaking.
She said she feigned orgasm to extricate herself from the encounter but later started having “non-forcible” oral sex with Weinstein.
“I was confused after what happened and I made a decision to be in a relationship with him,” she said. While she wasn’t sexually attracted to Weinstein, she felt compassion for him and wanted his approval, she added.
But the relationship quickly turned “degrading,”she said. Weinstein could be charming, but “if he heard the word `no,’ it was like a trigger for him,” she said.
The first rape happened after she agreed to meet Weinstein for breakfast with friends, she said. She was upset when he checked into a New York hotel where she was staying, she said, but she accompanied him to his room to tell him off in private.
Instead, the producer held the door shut, barked at her to undress and “stood over me until I was completely naked,” she told jurors.
Then he went into another room, emerged naked and raped her, she testified. Afterward in a bathroom, she found a needle in a trash can, she said, and believed, after some research, that he had injected himself with an erection-inducing drug.