LOS ANGELES, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and wife of the governor of California, testified Monday that former film producer Harvey Weinstein raped her in 2005 while she was trying to pursue a career as a producer and actor.
On the witness stand in Los Angeles Superior Court, Siebel Newsom said she met Weinstein, now 70, at the Toronto Film Festival when she was 31 and had appeared in a few minor film and TV roles.
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 that she would meet Weinstein, then one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, at his hotel suite, she said.
When she arrived, Weinstein had no interest in discussing her projects, 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 getting “aggressive.”
“I was scared. This wasn’t why I came here,” she said, often bursting into tears. “I just remembered trying to back down physically.”
Siebel Newsom said Weinstein got her onto a bed, though she can’t remember if he carried her there or dragged her. He then raped her, she said.
“He was just so big and so determined,” she said. “This 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 now on trial in Los Angeles on 11 counts of rape and 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 charges against Weinstein in Los Angeles. Prosecutors had previously 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 voluntarily participated in a “casting couch” culture to further their careers in Hollywood.
At the time of the meeting with Siebel Newsom, she had not met her future husband, current California Governor Gavin Newsom, and said she did not tell him what happened until after the allegations against Weinstein became public.
During cross-examination, Weinstein attorney Mark Werksman asked Siebel Newsom why her husband had accepted campaign donations from the producer. She said the governor returned the money after she told him about her meeting.
Weinstein, 70, was convicted of sexual misconduct in February 2020 in New York. In July 2021, he was extradited from New York to a Los Angeles prison.
In New York, Weinstein is appealing against his conviction and 23 years in prison. He could face up to 140 years in prison if convicted in Los Angeles on all charges.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine. Edited by Gerry Doyle
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