Monday, June 24, 2024

Weinstein Defense Witness Doesn’t Recall Alleged ‘Dirty Dancing’ Attack

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Seven weeks into the Los Angeles rape trial of Harvey Weinstein, and the first day of his defense, lawyers for the fallen movie mogul revealed on Monday that he will not be taking the stand, while a witness for the defense testified that she had no recollection of an alleged prior “bad act” that a prosecution witness had testified to.

Weinstein lawyer Mark Werksman called on Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights choreographer JoAnn Jansen to counter testimony from a dancer on the 2004 musical, produced by Weinstein’s Miramax, who claimed the producer sexually assaulted her. As Variety reports, not only did Jansen testify that she did not recall the dancer having ever told her about the alleged attack, she also did not remember ever meeting the woman at all.

Former actor Ashley Matthau—a supporting prosecution witness whose accusations are not among the four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault charges involving five women that Weinstein is facing.—told the court last month that while she was shooting the sequel to the 1986 classic in Puerto Rico, Weinstein masturbated on her in his hotel room after luring her there by having a female assistant present, who soon made herself scarce.

Matthau, the ex-wife of director Charlie Matthau, son of Walter Matthau, had testified, “I was just really thankful that I wasn’t raped,” adding that she confided to the choreographer and the producer on the movie, but that neither offered any help.

That was all news to Jansen, she told the jury Monday.  Jansen—whose choreographer credits include four Weinstein films plus Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Uptown Girls, Take the Lead, and acting coach on Freedom Riders—maintained that she knew every one of the 50 to 75 dancers on the film, but not Matthau. She also said she did not recognize Matthau—who was 22 at the time of the alleged incident—when shown a photo of her, Variety reports.

“Did any female dancer meet you to express any concern?” Werksman asked.

“No,” she replied, saying that she would have remembered being told something like that.

Asked if any of the dancers on set were in “distress” about run-ins with Weinstein, Jansen also said, “No.”

Under cross-examination by deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez, Jansen said she could recognize every single dancer she worked with, explaining, “I know that sounds odd, but I did.”

Martinez then showed Jansen Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Jansen said she recognized every person in the cast, aside from Matthau. “She was credited with being a dancer, but you don’t recognize her?”

Jansen responded, “Nope.”

Matthau’s attorney, Elizabeth Fagan, told Variety in an email, “A quick check of the credits for ‘Havana Nights’ reflects Ashley as a dancer in the movie, and she still receives residual checks to this day. If the defense argues she wasn’t there, they will be lying to the court and the jury.”

Jansen was one of four witnesses called by the defense on Monday. It is expected to call two more witnesses on Tuesday, with closing arguments by the end of the week.

Weinstein, who is currently serving 23 years on a New York conviction for committing a criminal sex act against a former production assistant in 2006 and the third-degree rape of an aspiring actress in an NYC hotel room in 2013—has maintained his innocence, with his defense arguing that anything which may have happened was consensual, if transactional.

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