UPDATED at 1:50PM ET with additional testimony. In vivid testimony wrapping up the fourth week of Harvey Weinstein’s trial in New York, hairstylist and actress Jessica Mann described her dealings with Weinstein, which she says culminated in sexual assault.
Mann is one of two accusers whose allegations against Weinstein form the basis of the five felony counts against him. Her testimony was expected to last through the end of Friday and could stretch into Monday.
Weinstein has maintained that all sexual encounters with all of his accusers have been consensual. If convicted, he faces life in prison. Several women, among them actress Annabella Sciorra, have testified as “Molineaux” witnesses over the past two weeks as the prosecution has put forward its case. The law allows them to testify about the defendant’s “prior bad acts” as prosecutors attempt to establish a pattern of behavior.
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Over several hours on the witness stand, Mann described entering Weinstein’s glittering orbit as an aspiring actress in LA, having moved there after a poor upbringing in a Washington state trailer park. After meeting Weinstein in 2012 through an actress friend, she was soon attending parties with him, which then progressed to dinner and drinks meetings [ostensibly about work] and, eventually, she says, rape.
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At a DoubleTree hotel in Manhattan in 2013, Mann recounted, Weinstein checked into a suite unexpectedly, which Mann described as a maneuver to be next to where she and friends were staying. Mann grew tearful when describing her efforts to implore the hotel staff not to let Weinstein check in, her protests growing so forceful that Weinstein grabbed her and pulled her aside, warning that “you’re embarrassing me.”
After check-in, Weinstein persuaded Mann to come into his suite that March morning, Weinstein prevented her from leaving after she panicked, sensing what his objective was. “I gave up at that point,” she said, her voice tight and interrupted by periodic sobs. “I undressed. He stood over me until I was completely naked and he told me to lay down on the bed. He went to the bathroom. He came out naked and he got on top of me and that’s when he put himself inside of me.”
After intercourse, Mann said she discovered a needle Weinstein had apparently used to inject himself with an erectile enhancer. Asked by prosecutor Joan Illuzzi if she could identify the brand of supplement or medication, Mann said only that it appeared to be a “dead-penis-type thing.”
The injection was one of many potent details in Mann’s account. Asked about Weinstein’s hygiene, the witness said it was poor. “He smelled like s–t,” she said, quickly apologizing for swearing. She described his “deformed” testicles and grunts he uttered during otherwise normal conversation that struck her as “autistic.”
Before the New York incident, Mann said there was another encounter in the bar of the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills. Mann said Weinstein told her and her friend that he had parts in mind for them in a film he was producing (the 2014 release Vampire Diaries). He told them to meet him upstairs in his suite and he would give them the scripts.
Soon after they got to the suite, Weinstein grabbed Mann and pulled her into the bedroom, she testified. “We got into this tussle back and forth. I was able to turn around. … He still had me by one arm. The more I fought, the angrier he got.” She said he kept telling her, “You’re not going to leave before I do something for you. … He told me to sit on the bed and that’s when he went down on me.”
After the oral encounter ended, she recalled, “I kind of locked up and got quiet.” Asked by Illuzzi how she felt during the act, she said, “I started to fake an orgasm to get out of it. … He asked me how it was, did I like it? I told him, ‘Oh, the best I ever had.’”
The episodes at the DoubleTree and Montage followed a similar one at the Peninsula Hotel, Mann testified, where the two had dinner and Weinstein invited her upstairs and demanded a massage with lotion. Rubbing lotion on his bare back as he lay shirtless and face down on the bed, she testified, “He had a lot of blackheads. The texture of that was uncomfortable.”
The early part of testimony by Mann, 34, established the early phase of her connection with Weinstein. She didn’t recognize him when they first met at a party in the Hollywood Hills. Mann recalls being struck by this “old man,” who looked “jolly in a rumpled tuxedo but definitely stood out.
“‘Do you know who I am?’” Mann said he asked. “‘I’m Harvey Weinstein.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ He could tell I didn’t get it. … He said, ‘I produced a lot of Oscar-winning films. He mentioned Shakespeare in Love, and he was giving all of his credentials. … I was kind of over it.”
They eventually went on an outing to Book Soup, the Sunset Boulevard bookstore in LA. “He had told me it’s important for me to know about film industry,” Mann said.
The defense team raised repeated objections to Illuzzi’s questioning. New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke sustained several of them and also admonished Mann, “Listen carefully to the questions and answer only the questions you’re asked, please.”
Many objections centered on questions about Mann’s friend, who accompanied her to Weinstein’s hotel room at the Montage. She was questioned by the D.A.’s office but is not being called as a witness. “They know she undercuts the witness’ testimony because she said the witness wanted a relationship with Harvey Weinstein,” defense attorney Damon Cheronis asserted.
Earlier this morning, before the jury entered the courtroom, Cheronis delivered a full-throated attack on the D.A.’s office for what he said were violations of discovery rules. Moments before court entered lunch recess, Cheronis resumed his requests for Burke to declare a mistrial. The judge did not address the request.
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