LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A woman who worked as a professional massage therapist testified Wednesday that former film producer Harvey Weinstein cornered her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel after a massage, pushed her against a wall and groped her chest as he performed a sex act on himself more than 12 years ago.
The woman — identified in court only as “Jane Doe #3” — told the downtown Los Angeles jury hearing the case against Weinstein that she didn’t lock the bathroom door after the May 2010 massage, noting that she trusted her clients and “didn’t expect Harvey to barge in” as she washed her hands.
“The bathroom door opened. There was Harvey, standing naked, masturbating,” she testified. “He was standing naked, stroking himself.”
The massage therapist said she was “shocked,” telling jurors that she told Weinstein that what he was doing was “not appropriate” and asked him to go back into the other room and “get your clothes on.”
The woman testified that Weinstein demanded that she look at his genitalia and ordered her to comment on its size, and that she was “terrified” and thought she was “about to get raped.” She said Weinstein pushed her against a wall, started to put his hand under her bra and ignored her requests to stop and leave her alone.
Weinstein told her afterward, “Now I know I can trust you. We’re close friends,” she testified, saying that he told her he wanted to help her get a deal to write a book about massage.
Weinstein subsequently emerged from the shower and flashed his penis at her in what she believed was his attempt to make her feel what he did was normal, the woman told jurors. She said she told him again to stop and that he was making her uncomfortable.
Weinstein, 70, is charged with sexual battery by restraint involving that woman.
Weinstein was indicted on 11 charges — including forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by a foreign object and sexual battery by restraint — involving five women.
In his opening statement last week, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson made no mention of “Jane Doe #5,” who is named in four of the counts in the grand jury’s indictment.
Outside the jury’s presence Tuesday, defense attorney Mark Werksman complained to Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench that the prosecution has a “legal and ethical duty if they know they cannot make charges in a case to dismiss them.”
The prosecutor countered that “Jane Doe #5” is “still a possibility,” with the judge subsequently refusing to dismiss the charges involving that woman or to force the prosecution to dismiss them.
In her first day on the stand, “Jane Doe #3” testified that she had an “A-list” clientele and said she did not tell anyone at the time about what had happened with Weinstein because she “would have been alone on trial” and feared that she wouldn’t be able to work with high-end clients if she “didn’t win” if she went public with her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
She said she eventually ended up telling a friend — Mel Gibson — that she had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein after he brought up the producer’s name during a massage.
“I freaked out,” she said, telling jurors that she asked Gibson why he would ever want to work with Weinstein and that Gibson was the “first person that I finally opened up (to) about what had happened.”
The actor — who may be called to the stand during the trial — asked if she wanted to call the police or get a lawyer, and she subsequently gave a more detailed account to one of Gibson’s female friends, the woman said.
She said she initially told police about the alleged sexual assault, but didn’t mention three other subsequent encounters with Weinstein, including another massage that occurred after he allegedly gave her his word that he wouldn’t touch her again.
Those included a hotel-room massage after which he allegedly was “flashing” her while laughing and another in which he allegedly told her to watch him as he masturbated, along with a business meeting with her then- employer after which Weinstein allegedly ordered her to lift up her shirt after he took off his pants and began masturbating, the woman testified.
“I screamed,” she said, telling jurors that she pushed his hand away and that Weinstein responded that they were “no longer friends.”
“I didn’t care,” she said.
The woman said she blames herself “because I just wish I did more.”
Jurors have already heard from a model-actress who was identified in court only as “Jane Doe #1” and testified that Weinstein raped and sexually assaulted her in a Los Angeles hotel room in what she described as “the longest night” of her life.
The panel is also expected to hear from two other alleged victims, who are referred to in the indictment only as “Jane Doe #2″ ” and “Jane Doe #4” The prosecutor told jurors that Jane Doe #4 — is now married to California’s governor and showed a photo of Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife, but said she was a “powerless actor trying to make her way in Hollywood” when she met Weinstein 17 years ago.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who was not referred to by name during the prosecutor’s opening statement, is expected to testify about the alleged attack in a hotel room at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills after initially meeting him at a film festival in Toronto in 2005.
“Jane Doe #4” reported that she was “crying and shaking” after Weinstein allegedly took her by the arm from a hotel room bathroom, pulled her onto the bed and told her, “Relax, this is going to make you feel better,” according to the prosecutor.
Thompson also told the panel that they would hear from four other alleged victims for whom Weinstein is not facing charges.
Weinstein began his entertainment career as a concert promoter and then, with his brother Bob, created Miramax Films, which produced a number of “iconic and award-winning films” including “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Shakespeare In Love,” among others, the prosecutor noted. The movies launched the careers of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Quentin Tarantino and Gwyneth Paltrow, Thompson said.
Werksman countered that two of the victims named in the indictment “just made it up” and that it was “transactional sex” for the other two women.
“You will see that these were all consensual sexual relations or, in some cases, they didn’t happen at all,” Werksman told jurors in his opening statement. “Mr. Weinstein is an innocent man who is not guilty of the charges in this indictment.”
He told jurors that the allegations “can be traced directly to the #MeToo movement,” and said that his client “became the epicenter of the #MeToo movement.”
Werksman told the panel that Weinstein’s accusers were “women who willingly played the game by the rules applied back then” and now “claim they were raped and sexually assaulted.”
“He’s not Brad Pitt or George Clooney. He’s not hot,” Weinstein’s lawyer told jurors. “They had sex with him because he was powerful …”
Weinstein, he said, “was once a very successful movie producer” whose “name was synonymous with Oscars and hit movies” — but is now described as a “vile monster.”
Weinstein was extradited from New York, where he was convicted of raping an aspiring actress and of a criminal sex act against a former production assistant. The state’s highest court has since agreed to hear his appeal involving that case.
Lench — who described the charges as “essentially sexual assaults or assaults of a sexual nature” — told prospective jurors that the trial is expected to last about two months, including the jury selection process, which began Oct. 10.
Weinstein remains behind bars.