As the Los Angeles sex crimes trial of Harvey Weinstein runs into the alleged victims of who stayed in touch with him after their rape or assault, it presents a new strategy for the defense, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Weinstein, who is currently serving 23 years on a New York conviction for committing a criminal sex act against former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006 and the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in an NYC hotel room in 2013, was hauled out to L.A. to face trial on four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts involving five women.
Kelly Sipherd, who testified Monday, said she saw Weinstein twice in her life. The first time, she was a 24-year-old aspiring actress. She met him at the Toronto Film Festival, they had a conversation over wine, and then he invited her up to his hotel room and proceeded to rape her.
She saw him again seventeen years later. The script was the same: he wanted her to meet him in his hotel room. She went, she said, believing that she would make him tell her why he did that all those years ago. Instead, she says, Weinstein proceeded to masturbate in front of her without her consent—an account similar to testimony given by an accuser known in court as Jane Doe 2 on Monday, who also told the court that Weinstein has identifiably abnormal genitalia.
Weinstein’s defense jumped on her story during cross-examination. “You know when you got up from the table you were not going upstairs to discuss business,” attorney Alan Jackson said regarding her testimony that she allowed herself to be alone in room with Weinstein after he had allegedly raped her once before.
To counter that tactic, prosecutors brought in forensic psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Ziv, an expert on “rape myths” put forth by Weinstein’s team. According to Ziv, it is “not uncommon for individuals to have subsequent contact with the perpetrator. Some people have continued contact because they want to decrease collateral damage.”
Former actress and screenwriter Lauren Young testified that Weinstein allegedly assaulted her in 2013 and that she met with Weinstein’s executive assistant Barbara Schneeweiss the next day to continue discussions about her script.
Young was also questioned about her repeated contact with Weinstein following the alleged assault. When Jackson, Weinstein’s attorney, asked her about her day-after meeting Scheeweiss, Young replied, “I didn’t know what he was capable of… I was more afraid not to go,” Young said.
Another woman who is scheduled to testify, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California governor Gavin Newsom, is expected to be questioned along such lines as one of eight women who were scheduled to testify against Weinstein.
Newsom also kept in touch with Weinstein after he allegedly assaulted her when she was an up-an-coming actress.
Additionally, the two women Weinstein was convicted of attacking in NY continued having contact with him after. Weinstein said himself during his March 11, 2020 sentencing, “That five years with Jessica and the years that I knew Mimi were always filled with, don’t go on the plane Harv, I want to have dinner with you first from Mimi.”
He continued, “Or, Harv, whatever, let’s get, you know, can you look at this idea I have for a television series. Or Harv, I’m in Cannes, can I go to the premier. Or Jessica, can I get into the Soho Club, which is a very exclusive, tough place to get into…”
The New York jury found him guilty nonetheless.