February 3, 2020 / 11:03 AM / 22 days ago

Weinstein defense expected to further challenge rape accuser's testimony

NEW YORK, Feb 3 (Reuters) - A onetime aspiring actress who has said movie producer Harvey Weinstein raped her in the course of an “extremely degrading” relationship is expected to return to Manhattan criminal court on Monday to face further cross-examination.

Jessica Mann, 34, testified on Friday that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in March 2013. She said she maintained some form of relationship with him for years after that.

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to raping Mann and to sexually assaulting another woman, Mimi Haleyi. Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein, who produced films including “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied any nonconsensual sex.

The trial is widely seen as a milestone in the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct.

Mann testified that she met Weinstein in late 2012 or early 2013 at a party in Los Angeles and that he told her he was interested in her as an actress. Soon after that, Mann said, Weinstein invited her to a hotel suite and forced oral sex on her.

After that, she said, “I entered into what I thought was going to be a real relationship with him and it was extremely degrading from that point on,” she said.

She said she did not have intercourse with Weinstein until he raped her at a hotel in Manhattan in 2013.

Mann said that eventually, at a Los Angeles hotel, she told Weinstein she had a boyfriend and wanted to end the relationship. She said Weinstein screamed at her, “You owe me one more time,” dragged her into a bedroom and raped her again.

Weinstein is only facing criminal charges over the alleged 2013 rape in New York.

Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, began her cross-examination on Friday afternoon, aggressively questioned Mann’s account and repeatedly suggested she chose to have sex with Weinstein to advance her career.

“You were manipulating Mr. Weinstein so you’d get invited to fancy parties, correct?” she asked.

“I was not manipulating him,” Mann answered.

Rotunno asked Mann whether, in 2013, she thought Weinstein might cast her in a movie, and Mann said she did.

“You were going to continue to do whatever you had to do to make that happen?” Rotunno asked.

“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Mann said. (Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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