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Harvey Weinstein Etienne Laurent/Pool Photo
Los Angeles

Woman tells court Weinstein sexually assaulted her twice, 17 years apart

Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault.

A WOMAN HAS testified that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the Toronto Film Festival in 1991, then did it again when she went to confront him in the same hotel during the same festival 17 years later.

On the witness stand at Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial, she said she was a 24-year-old aspiring actor at the 1991 festival and did not know who Weinstein was before she met him at a party.

She said her friends there were abuzz about the man whose company Miramax had surged to the forefront of independent film and was making its mark at the Oscars.

She said she was charmed by Weinstein at first as they discussed books and films.

“We got along very well,” she said. “He was very intelligent. We had a wonderful conversation.”

She said the two of them left the party for a glass of wine at a nearby cafe, then she went with him to his room at the Four Seasons Hotel because he said he had a script for a film with a role that would be perfect.

Once there, she said he went into the bathroom and emerged wearing only an open shirt and holding a hot washcloth.

“It all happened very, very very quickly,” she said. “I was in shock. It was so unexpected.”

She said he pulled her skirt off, put the washcloth on her and told her “my wife loves this”.

She testified that she felt “nauseous, scared, terrified” and repeatedly told him “no” and asked “what are you doing?”.

She said he held her down and sexually assaulted her with his mouth and his hand. He then climbed on top of her and started to rape her but she was able to slip away and leave the room, the court heard.

Already serving a 23-year sentence in New York, Weinstein, 70, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving five women in Los Angeles and has denied engaging in any non-consensual sex.

He is not charged with the alleged assaults described in yesterday’s testimony. The woman, along with three others, is being allowed to testify so prosecutors can attempt to show Weinstein’s propensity for the crimes he is charged with.

The woman testified that she did not see Weinstein again until 2008, when she was 41 and temporarily living at the Four Seasons with her husband and children. She ran into Weinstein in the lobby during that year’s festival.

“My blood kind of stopped,” she said. “I was very angry.”

When Weinstein’s assistant came to her room to say he wanted to meet with her, she agreed.

“I wanted to confront him,” she said. “I felt like I was ready to give it to him.”

Once in his room, she remembered asking, “How does it feel to be in front of the one woman who said no to you?”.

She said Weinstein then dismissed his assistant from the room, and quickly guided her toward a door. She said before she realised it she was in a closed bathroom with Weinstein, where he was blocking her way out.

She said Weinstein grabbed her breasts and masturbated in front of her before letting her leave the room.

The woman told the court she did not tell anyone about the second assault for years because of the “sheer embarrassment” of having it happen again.

“I was in shock,” she said. “So embarrassed, just so embarrassed.”

She remained composed and unrattled through her testimony, but began crying when asked what effect the two assaults had on her, replying “there are so many layers to that”.

The first, she told the court, drove her from acting.

“I never wanted to go through anything like that again,” she said.

She added the second had major personal effects.

“It hurt my marriage because I didn’t tell him,” she said. “It’s been really hard.”

Her testimony appears to be the first time she has told her story in a public setting.

Like similar witnesses in this and other trials, she at first told her story quickly and in plain language, but was asked to double back and provide more graphic, and more difficult, details.

Weinstein’s lawyers were set to cross-examine her this afternoon.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused.

Press Association