LOS ANGELES, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Jennifer Siebel Newsom, documentary filmmaker and wife of the governor of California, testified on Monday that former film producer Harvey Weinstein raped her in 2005 as she tried to build a career as a producer and actress.
On the Los Angeles Superior Court witness stand, Siebel Newsom said she met Weinstein, now 70, at the Toronto Film Festival when she was 31 and starred in a few small film roles and on the television.
Weeks later in California, Weinstein invited her to meet him at The Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills for what she thought was a business meeting, she testified. She was surprised to learn she was supposed to meet Weinstein, then one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, in his hotel suite, she said.
Upon arrival, Weinstein had no interest in discussing his plans, Siebel Newsom said. He went to the bathroom, called her over and started masturbating in front of her, she said, before touching her breasts and becoming “aggressive”.
“I was scared. That wasn’t why I came here,” she said, often bursting into tears. “I just remember physically trying to back off.”
Siebel Newsom said Weinstein put her on a bed, though she doesn’t recall whether he carried her or dragged her there. He then raped her, she said.
“He was so big and so determined,” she said. “It was hell.”
Weinstein, the man who became the face of #MeToo allegations five years ago, is serving a 23-year prison sentence for sex crimes in New York. He is currently on trial in Los Angeles on 11 counts of rape and sexual assault and has pleaded not guilty.
Siebel Newsom, who was identified in court as Jane Doe #4, is one of four women whose allegations form the basis of the Los Angeles charges against Weinstein. Prosecutors had earlier said there were five accusers.
Siebel Newsom’s attorney confirmed in October that Siebel Newsom would testify in the case.
Defense attorneys have argued that all of Weinstein’s sexual encounters were consensual and that his accusers willingly took part in a “casting couch” culture to advance their Hollywood careers.
At the time of meeting Siebel Newsom, she had not met her future husband, current California Governor Gavin Newsom, and she said she only told him what happened after the allegations against Weinstein became public.
Under cross-examination, Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, questioned Siebel Newsom on why her husband had accepted campaign donations from the producer. She said the governor returned the money after telling her about his meeting.
Weinstein, 70, was convicted of sexual misconduct in New York in February 2020. He was extradited from New York to a prison in Los Angeles in July 2021.
In New York, Weinstein is appealing his conviction and his 23-year prison sentence. He could face up to 140 years in prison if convicted of all charges in Los Angeles.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine. Editing by Gerry Doyle
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