January 31, 2020 / 11:06 AM / 16 days ago

Accuser says Weinstein raped her, likens former producer to 'Jekyll and Hyde'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A onetime aspiring actress told a Manhattan jury on Friday that Harvey Weinstein raped her in a hotel room while she was in an “extremely degrading” relationship with the movie producer.

The woman, Jessica Mann, said she told no one about what had happened.

“I was so embarrassed,” she said, crying on the witness stand.

Mann likened Weinstein to “Jekyll and Hyde,” saying he could be charming in public but often showed frightening anger when they were alone.

“If he heard the word ‘no,’ it was like a trigger for him,” she said.

On cross-examination, Weinstein’s lawyers suggested that Mann stayed with him to further her Hollywood career.

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, now 34, 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.

Weinstein later invited her and her friend to a hotel suite in Los Angeles, Mann testified. When they arrived, Mann said, Weinstein pulled her into a bedroom, leaving her friend outside.

There, she said, Weinstein told her to sit on the bed and performed oral sex on her. Mann said she pretended to have an orgasm so he would stop.

Weinstein is not charged with a crime in connection with that encounter.

Mann said she then entered into a relationship with Weinstein.

Witness Jessica Mann is questioned by prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon during film producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial at New York Criminal Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 31, 2020 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

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

When Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi asked her why she stayed in a relationship, Mann, often crying, said there was “no short answer.”

“One of the aspects initially was that I had had a sexual encounter” with him, she said. “That wasn’t something I could undo. That really confused me and hurt me.”

She said she engaged in oral sex with Weinstein during the relationship but never had intercourse with him until he raped her at a hotel in Manhattan in 2013.

She said she wrote “flattering” emails during her relationship with Weinstein but that those were driven by fear.

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 not charged in connection with that encounter either.

Justice James Burke instructed the jury that Mann’s testimony about her encounters before and after the alleged rape in New York could only be used as evidence of Weinstein’s intent and whether Mann consented in that New York encounter. He said it could not be used as evidence of a propensity by Weinstein to commit rape.

On cross-examination, Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, 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.

Slideshow (4 Images)

The cross-examination is expected to continue on Monday.

(The story adds title and name of Justice James Burke in 22nd paragraph)

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; writing by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Dan Grebler and Jonathan Oatis

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