California Governor Gavin Newsom’s wife spoke at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial in Los Angeles on Monday and almost immediately broke down in tears when asked to name the man she accused of the sexually assaulted twice.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a 48-year-old former actress and producer, told attorney Marlene Martinez she was “a little nervous” about giving evidence. Newsom told the court she first met Weinstein at the Toronto Film Festival more than 15 years ago.
“Do you see this person here in court today?” Martinez asked, prompting Newsom to burst into tears.
“Yes,” she replied, according to courtroom pool reports. “He’s wearing a blue suit and tie, and he’s looking at me.”
Mexican model caught up in Weinstein trial calls accuser’s claims ‘fiction’
Newsom went on to say that their first meeting – in September 2005, long before she met her current husband – happened in a hotel while snuggling with friends from the industry. At the time, she was a working actress and had done a few “small roles” in TV shows and a few movies, she testified.
Weinstein, on the other hand, was a “kingmaker” and “on top of the industry,” Newsom said. As the tycoon approached her, “everyone backed away”, she recalled, adding that it “felt like the Red Sea was parting”.
“He wanted to know who I was, what my name was, why I was there,” Newsom said. “…I felt a bit intimidated. He was charming. He initially treated me like he was really curious about me. Maybe I felt flattered?
Weinstein told her he wanted to see her again and they arranged to meet later at the hotel bar. “I felt like there was genuine interest in talking about my work,” Newsom, who said he brought a friend to the meeting, told the court.
A lunch break was called shortly after his brief testimony, with the governor’s wife due to continue testifying later on Monday. She is one of five women who are expected to speak in this latest trial to accuse Weinstein of sexually assaulting them.
Through her attorney, Newsom revealed on October 10 that she was the woman named in the lawsuit only as Jane Doe #4. “Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein during an alleged business meeting that turned out to be a trap,” attorney Elizabeth Fegan said in a statement at the time. .
“She intends to testify at her trial to seek some measure of justice for survivors, and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women.”
Weinstein’s attorneys have argued that the disgraced producer did not sexually assault Newsom, but rather had “consensual,” “transactional” sex with her in exchange for helping her with her career. In his opening statement last month, defense attorney Mark Werkman called Newsom “just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”
fegan said Variety soon after, she found Werkman’s words insulting. “The use of adjectives like ‘bimbo’ and other exaggerated words to describe the items, to me, reflects the fact that Harvey has no facts to back up his defense,” she said, “So they’re going to try to win based on the drama and attacking the victims, as opposed to based on the evidence.
The potential introduction of a 2007 email from Newsom to Weinstein as evidence sent the defense and prosecution into lockdown in late October. The email, a request for advice on how to deal with the media, was sent after news broke that Governor Newsom once had an affair with a married aide while he was mayor of San Francisco in 2005. (The Newsoms didn’t start dating until 2006.)
Judge Lisa Lench granted restricted permission for the defense to present the email in court, barring them from discussing the story behind the message. She explained that the case was “too tangential to this trial”.
Weinstein, now 70, is already serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of rape and sexual assault in New York in 2020. In Los Angeles County, he faces four counts of rape , four counts of forced oral copulation, one count of sexual assault. forcible penetration, one count of forcible sexual assault and sexual assault in incidents spanning from 2004 to 2013.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial is expected to last until the end of the month before being returned to the jury for deliberation.
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