NEW YORK — The Harvey Weinstein sex crimes trial continued Friday with a crucial witness – a woman whose rape accusation is a central part of the charges against him and whose testimony provoked occasional gasps in court.
Former actress Jessica Mann, 34, took the stand in a Manhattan courthouse to testify against the fallen movie mogul, who she says raped her in his New York hotel room in 2013.
Mann’s testimony at times caused audible gasps and loud objections from the defense table. At one point, she described Weinstein’s genitalia, said he had terrible scarring, and that she stayed in a secret sexual relationship with him because she thought he threatened her father.
At this point, Weinstein seemed shocked, his mouth open, but most of the time his head was down as he took notes in a purple notebook at the defense table.
Initial cross examination of Mann began Friday afternoon but did not conclude so Judge James Burke instructed her to return to court Monday.
Mann testified she and Weinstein had a relationship that started in Los Angeles but by the time she got to New York around St. Patrick’s Day she was trying to break up with him.
At a hotel, they got into an argument and he told her to go to his room. Once there, he prevented her from leaving, and forced her to undress and get on the bed where he raped her, she said. Previously, their relationship did not include intercourse, she said.
“I was panicked, because my worst nightmare was about to happen,” she said. “I was very angry inside and very scared… I gave up at that point.”
Afterwards, in the bathroom, she saw a needle in the trash can and examined the name on it so she could look it up later. “I don’t remember the medical term (on the package), but when I Googled it, it basically implied (erectile dysfunction medication) ” she said, sobbing.
After she returned to Los Angeles, she sent flattering emails to him, trying to prop up what she said was his “fragile” ego. She said there were “a lot of dynamics” in their relationship.
“I wanted to be perceived as innocent and naive and not a threat. I didn’t want to trigger his anger,” she said.
She said she was sometimes afraid of Weinstein and that fear drove the tone of her emails.
Later, she said, she tried to avoid being alone with Weinstein and often ignored his calls and emails. She started a relationship with “a well-known actor” but feared telling Weinstein. She said he had a “rule” that she could not date anyone in the industry because he considered that “disrespectful.”
She testified that after the New York encounter and after she told Weinstein about her boyfriend, he became enraged, raped her again and again forced oral sex on her, tearing her clothes and cutting her, at a Beverly Hills hotel.
“His eyes were black, he picked me up from my chair and was screaming, ‘You owe me one more time!’ and he dragged me to his room,” she said. “He threw me on the edge of the bed, and was demanding I take off my clothes, and I was begging, ‘No! No!’ because I had a boyfriend.”
Afterwards, he apologized, she said, telling her, “I just find you so attractive, I couldn’t resist.” He wanted to know if they were “still friends,” and she told him yes. Then she fled.
Did she ever say to him, “You raped me” or “I hate you,” asked Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi.
“I was too scared to confront him,” Mann replied.
On cross-examination defense attorney Donna Rotunno challenged Mann by suggesting she “manipulated” Weinstein in their initial Los Angeles encounters to boost her career.
“You decided that you could overlook what you found grotesque about his appearance because you wanted what he could give you,” Rotunno said. “Ms. Mann, you were using Harvey Weinstein. You were lying to Harvey Winstein. You never wanted to have sex with Mr. Weinstein, even when you said it was consensual?”
“Correct,” she responded.
When she was asked why she didn’t immediately flee after an early unwanted encounter, she said she didn’t want to offend someone with so much power in Hollywood.
“You wanted to benefit from the power he had, whether it was professional or otherwise. Correct?,” Rotunno asked.
There was a long pause from Mann, who was mostly composed and clear during initial cross-examination.
“I wanted to benefit from my agents and managers, but they weren’t giving me opportunities,” she said.
Under prosecutors’ questioning, Mann had described a failed threesome, which she said was arranged by Weinstein, as a traumatic event. Rotunno made her read a never-posted blog entry from her phone that described it in explicit detail but lacked a traumatic quality.
“This is what really happened that night?” Rotunno asked.
“No, it isn’t,” Mann responded. “I wanted to re-frame it for comedy…(The actual event) was painful for me.”
Rotunno suggested that Mann interacted with Weinstein even when she didn’t want to because she hoped to be cast in one of his movies.
“The movie was important to my career,” she said. “It would’ve made a life-altering difference in my career at that point.”
In opening statements prosecutors said Weinstein assaulted Mann multiple times in 2013, including in Los Angeles, but he is charged in connection with one encounter at the New York hotel.
Mann spoke softly, seemed to be shaking with nerves at times, and sometimes paused before answering questions. She said she grew up devoutly religious in a small, rural town in Wisconsin and moved to Los Angeles when she was 25.
She said she initially had a hard time breaking into the entertainment business and at one point she was living in her car before she acquired an agent. She met the then-powerful producer Weinstein at an industry party in late 2012 or 2013 in Los Angeles.
“When I met Harvey, I had given up a lot to be in Hollywood,” she said. “With my religious background, I thought God was blessing me by meeting him.”
She testified she had uncomfortable encounters with Weinstein in California. He once demanded she massage him at a hotel in Beverly Hills. She complied for 10 minutes, then left.
“He was manipulative. I was saying I was uncomfortable and he was making me feel stupid, like I was making a big deal over nothing,” she said.
Later, she and a friend met him at another Beverly Hills hotel for drinks and they went up to his room to retrieve scripts he said he had for them.
“I didn’t think with my friend there it’d be anything bad,” Mann testified. But once there she said, Weinstein called her into the bedroom, told her friend they’d just be a minute and closed the door. She described tussling with him as he became angrier.
She began crying as she described how he forced oral sex on her after pulling down her underwear.
She told her friend what happened but the friend had encouraged her to accept Weinstein’s invitations to parties and events.
She said she was confused about that but “made a decision” to be in a relationship with him. “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 later did engage in non-forced oral sex with the Weinstein.
Why did she continue to have a relationship with him, asked Illuzzi.
“There’s a lot of layers to that question,” Mann answered.
“I had a fight with my dad once and he saw that I was upset… he said he’ll send two men there with bats,” she testified. “And he said he had a problem with one actress’s stalker that he did that to…There are many likable things about him when he’s nice.”
Harvey Weinstein trial: Ex-boyfriend says accuser was ‘shocked, upset’ after meeting with mogul
Mann said she maintained an email relationship with Weinstein for years after the alleged New York rape, with multiple messages and text messages from Mann to Weinstein suggesting a friendly, even loving relationship.
Weinstein’s defense team says that in more than 400 messages between the two, she never accused Weinstein of raping her or harming her. She testified she was too scared of him. The prosecution argued in opening statements, and is expected to argue again in closing statements, that Mann feared for her career, as well as herself, if she said anything.
Questions about why accusers maintain contact with their alleged assailants have been a key issue in the trial. Prosecutors called an expert witness to testify that this is “normal” behavior by victims and it’s a “rape myth” to suggest it isn’t.
The defense argues that such behavior at least raises reasonable doubt about criminal allegations.
This week, two other accusers, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff, were called to testify; they have accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting them in the mid-2000s, although neither can press charges due to the statute of limitations. They are being offered as “prior bad acts” witnesses aimed at helping prosecutors prove Weinstein had an alleged pattern as a serial predator.
Multiple secondary witnesses were called Thursday to testify on various aspects of earlier witnesses testimony in an effort to corroborate their stories.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with five sex crimes, including rape and assault, stemming from encounters with Mann and another accuser, Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi, who tearfully testified in court Monday. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Harvey Weinstein accuser shocks court with graphic descriptions of him