Week 2 at Weinstein trial: Four accusers and a Chihuahua
NEW YORK (AP) — The second week of testimony at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.
The woman he’s charged with raping testified Friday, giving an often vivid account of fraught interactions with this once revered Hollywood producer and a much talked-about description of his genitalia.
But court adjourned for the weekend before Weinstein’s lawyers got a chance to confront her with what they consider smoking gun evidence that points to a consensual relationship, not a crime: warm emails she sent him after the alleged assault saying things like “Miss you, big guy.”
The woman, now 34, will return to the witness stand Monday to face that line of questioning. The first part of the woman’s testimony capped another week filled with vivid testimony, notable moments and a few odd twists.
The trial is moving faster than expected and could wrap up by mid-February.
KEY ACCUSERS TAKE STAND
Four Weinstein accusers testified this week, beginning Monday with the woman he is charged with sexually assaulting in 2006, former “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haleyi.
The charges against Weinstein in the New York case involve only Haleyi’s allegations and the rape allegation from the woman who testified on Friday. Weinstein, 67, has insisted that any sexual encounters were consensual.
Haleyi was followed Wednesday by two former aspiring actresses who say they too were sexually assaulted or raped by Weinstein.
Those women’s allegations are not part of the criminal charges at issue in the trial. Prosecutors called them to the witness stand under a state law that allows testimony about so-called “prior bad acts,” to bolster their case that Weinstein is a serial offender.
CHASED BY A CHIHUAHUA
Haleyi’s former roommate testified Tuesday that before the alleged assault Weinstein would frequently show up unannounced at their apartment, begging Haleyi to join him on a trip to the Paris fashion shows.
Elizabeth Entin told jurors that on one such visit, her pet Chihuahua chased Weinstein around the apartment, bringing a little levity to the courtroom.
Prosecutors entered a photograph of the dog, named Peanut, into evidence, and a reporter asked Weinstein about the episode as he left court for the day.
“Mr. Weinstein, are you afraid of Chihuahuas?” she asked.
Weinstein smiled and said: “Do I look like I’m afraid of Chihuahuas?”
‘A BLESSING’ AND A CURSE
The woman who testified Friday told a story typical of the many starlets who’ve come forward with allegations against Weinstein in recent years.
She told jurors she was a starry-eyed, 27-year-old aspiring actress when she met Weinstein at a party, not knowing at first who he was, but later considering him “guru of Hollywood.”
“I thought it was a blessing,” she said.
Soon, she said, she was made to endure increasingly sexual advances as Weinstein appeared to take interest in her career.
In March 2013, she said, he trapped her in a New York City hotel room and angrily ordered her to undress as he loomed over her.
Eight months later at a Los Angeles hotel where she worked as a hairdresser, she said Weinstein demanded another sexual encounter, screaming, “You owe me one more time!” after she told him she was dating an actor.
She said she begged him not to take off her clothes, but he said, “I don’t have time for games” and ripped off her pants before pushing her legs apart and raping her.
The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of sexual assault accusers without their consent. It is withholding the name of the rape accuser because it isn’t clear if she wishes to be identified publicly.
‘I WAS GOING TO WEAR THAT!’
The defense team’s flashy suits and colorful dresses have served as a contrast to the drab, austere courtroom.
On Thursday, Weinstein lawyer Arthur Aidala walked in wearing a wild, light-colored suit with an overlain windowpane, plaid pattern. It was something of a throwback design from the solid colors and occasional pinstripes nowadays.
The typically more ruffled Weinstein entered the courtroom a few minutes later in a charcoal suit and olive tie.
Noticing Aidala’s eye-popping attire, he quipped: “I was going to wear that!”
Others on the defense team have their own signature looks. Donna Rotunno has been wearing floral-patterned blouses and bold dresses to court. Barry Kamins, a retired judge and respected authority on the law, has been coming to court in his trademark bow ties.
Aidala said he dresses by mood, kind of like George Costanza on “Seinfeld,” but with some deference to what’s going on in court that day.
If he were cross-examining a key witness for example, he said, he might pick a more subdued ensemble so as not to draw too much attention away from the task at hand.
Meanwhile, Weinstein has a sleek, new walker — one that moves on wheels instead of old tennis balls, like he had earlier in the trial.
‘I AM A HARMLESS OLD MAN’
One way Weinstein wore down women’s defenses was to give the impression that he was just a harmless old man, several witnesses testified this week.
The woman who took the stand Friday said soon after they met in late 2012 or early 2013, Weinstein was telling her that she “looked prettier than Natalie Portman” and that he wanted her to read for a top role in a vampire film.
“I said, ‘Oh no. I know what that means,’” the woman testified. “And he laughed at me and said, ‘I am a harmless old man.’”
Haleyi’s roommate, Elizabeth Entin, struck a similar chord.
She testified Tuesday that, prior to the alleged assault, they saw Weinstein “as a pathetic older man.”
Several accusers say that was part of a Jekyll & Hyde shtick in which Weinstein would use charm to ingratiate himself, only to turn violent when he didn’t think he could get his way.
“If he heard the word ‘no,’ it was like a trigger for him,” Friday’s witness said.
WEINSTEIN LOOSENS UP
Weinstein seemed in better spirits on his way out of court this week, even after some long days of graphic testimony about his alleged behavior.
After mostly shunning reporters during the first week of testimony, the “Pulp Fiction” producer was more apt to answer questions this week.
Leaving court Wednesday, Weinstein offered: “It went great today. The lawyers killed it.” He also likened a portion of one accuser’s testimony to bull excrement.
On Thursday, he defended his use of the private spy agency Black Cube, which allegedly dug up dirt on his accusers, saying he did it “for days like this.”
Weinstein commented again Friday after the woman testifying about an alleged rape said that when she first saw him naked, she noticed “extreme scarring” on his stomach and thought he had characteristics of both male and female genitalia.
The woman also testified that Weinstein was smelly, dirty and had a lot of blackheads on his skin.
Asked by a reporter if the description of his body was accurate, Weinstein said sarcastically: “Yeah, perfect.”
For more coverage of Harvey Weinstein’s trial visit: apnews.com/HarveyWeinstein