In another day of emotional testimony, Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s wife told jurors Tuesday that former film producer Harvey Weinstein raped her and “ruined” her life in a Beverly Hills hotel room 17 years ago.
Meanwhile, the judge presiding over the case dismissed four charges Weinstein had been facing involving another alleged victim, after the prosecution announced outside the jury’s presence that it was not going to proceed on those charges.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom — who was referred to in court only as “Jane Doe #4” but has been publicly identified by her attorney — became emotional as she told the downtown Los Angeles jury Tuesday that she initially came forward with her allegations about Weinstein to “support other women, not to be up here on the witness stand.”
In her second day on the stand, the documentary filmmaker said she didn’t think her allegations would result in charges against Weinstein because she thought she was “out of the time period.”
“I had everything in a box and I’ve been slowly sharing a little bit at a time because this is so painful,” the governor’s wife said when asked by defense attorney Mark Werksman why she hadn’t revealed some details of the alleged attack at The Peninsula in September 2005 when she was initially questioned by police or when she testified before the grand jury that indicted Weinstein.
Under cross-examination about what had happened with Weinstein, the governor’s wife said that she was “making some noises to get him (Weinstein) to finish” and that he had “already raped me.”
She said she felt the need to clarify and “be more detailed” has grown as the trial approached.
“Putting it in a box was a way of putting away my sadness, my fear … so I could move forward with my life,” she said.
The defense attorney suggested that she had changed her memories when she pulled them out of a box, with Siebel Newsom responding that she had been “assaulted” by Weinstein.
“He ruined my life. I put it in a box and I was not going to not pursue my entertainment career because of what happened,” she said.
She acknowledged subsequently reaching out to Weinstein in emails, saying she was trying to “pretend” that nothing had happened.
Weinstein, now 70, is charged with one count each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation involving the governor’s wife.
He was indicted on 11 sex-related charges involving her and four other women, but Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench outside the jury’s presence Tuesday that the prosecution was not going to proceed with four counts– two counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation involving “Jane Doe #5,” who had not been mentioned in the prosecution’s opening statement. Those charges were subsequently dismissed by the judge.
In testimony Monday, Siebel Newsom said she had agreed to meet Weinstein at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills, but that she was “confused” and “a little hesitant” when she got a message from his assistant directing her to meet him in his suite in September 2005.
She said Weinstein didn’t seem interested in talking to her about her projects, and told her that he was “going to get more comfortable” before he summoned her to the hotel suite’s bathroom with a call for help.
“I didn’t know there was danger,” she said. “I thought maybe he was hurt.”
She said the man she had described earlier as being “like the kingmaker” and “the top of the industry” was “touching himself” and “tried to get me to touch him.”
“I just was like frozen,” the governor’s wife said. “I was scared. This was not why I came here. It was like a complete manipulation of why I was there.”
She said she recalled trying to back away and being involved in a “cat-and-mouse thing” with Weinstein, whom she said subsequently went into a “diatribe” about his childhood, his mother and his brother.
She told jurors that he was “making me feel like I had no power, like I was trapped.”
“Once you get in the bedroom, are you still shaking?” Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez asked.
“100%,” the woman responded.
She testified that he began groping her breasts and touched his penis while she was standing and “resisting” against the bed, providing a graphic account of what she called the “horror” and “hell” of her encounter with Weinstein.
“I was afraid of what he was doing, putting his body into my body and hurting me,” she testified, adding that she put her hand on his penis and made some “pleasure noises” to put an end to what was happening.
She acknowledged Monday that she believed she had asked Weinstein once for a campaign donation for her husband, who was the mayor of San Francisco and California’s lieutenant governor before he was elected governor in 2018. She said that she hadn’t told Newsom at the time what had happened with Weinstein and that her husband subsequently returned the money.
The woman said she had initially met Weinstein at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2005, and broke into tears after being asked to identify him in court.
“He’s wearing a suit and a blue tie, and he’s staring at me,” she told jurors.
Werksman contended in his opening statement that two of the alleged victims named in the charges “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 said. “Mr. Weinstein is an innocent man who is not guilty of the charges in this indictment.”
Of “Jane Doe #4,” Werksman said then that she has been a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, and said that, “Otherwise, she’d be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”
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, Thompson noted in the prosecution’s opening statement. The movies launched the careers of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Quentin Tarantino and Gwyneth Paltrow, according to the prosecutor.
Weinstein’s attorney countered 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 jurors 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 said. “They had sex with him because he was powerful …”
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.
He remains behind bars.
City News Service contributed to this article.