Massage therapist says humiliation kept her silent on Weinstein assault
A massage therapist has testified that the humiliation and embarrassment she felt at allowing herself to be repeatedly alone with Harvey Weinstein after he sexually assaulted her kept her silent about it for years.
The woman testified that in 2010 when she was 28, after briefly meeting Weinstein through a friend, she was hired to go to his hotel room in Beverly Hills to give him a massage.
He cut the appointment short after about 40 minutes, and when she was in the bathroom washing her hands, Weinstein entered, blocked the door and began masturbating in front of her.
“I said, ‘What are you doing?’” the woman remembered saying as she sat on the witness stand at the Los Angeles trial of the 70-year-old former movie magnate.
“This is not appropriate! Can you please go back in the other room, and get your clothes on?”
She began to cry as she said: “I was terrified. I thought I was about to get raped.”
She said Weinstein was blocking the door then pushed her against a wall and groped her breasts before finishing.
“I was in shock. I felt frozen, I felt paralyzed. I was trying to understand,” she said.
The woman, who is going by Jane Doe in court, was the second of five women Weinstein is charged with sexually assaulting to take the stand at his trial.
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused.
The woman said Weinstein called and texted her repeatedly after the incident.
A month or more later, she reluctantly agreed to see him again with the assurance there would be no sexual contact. But Weinstein did open his robe and expose herself to him during that massage, she testified.
She later saw Weinstein again, to work only on an injured foot, but when she was done he began masturbating in front of her again.
She refused to take any money, she said, and cried as she said she was “disgusted. Disgusted that that just happened to me, and I just stood there”.
“That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t want to come forward,” she said, “because this is embarrassing.”
She said she saw Weinstein one more time several months later, when she introduced him to a friend who was publishing a coffee table book about Los Angeles.
She thought she could avoid being alone with him, but Weinstein asked to speak to her alone, he again began masturbating and moved toward her, grabbing at her breasts again.
“This time I screamed.” She said.
Asked why she did not go to police, she said, “I was humiliated, I was scared.”
“I work on high-end clients that trust me,” she said.
“If I went public that I was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, and I didn’t win, I wouldn’t have been able to work with high-profile clients and that’s all I work with.”
When she finally did go to police years later, she told them only about the first incident. She only divulged the others slowly in conversations with authorities and in testimony to the grand jury that indicted Weinstein.
He is charged with one count of sexual battery against the woman and in total faces 11 rape and sexual assault counts in California.
He is serving a 23-year sentence for a conviction in New York.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and denied engaging in any non-consensual sex.
The woman’s willingness to see Weinstein again after the initial alleged assault is likely to be at the centre of her cross-examination on Thursday by his defence.
She said the first person she told about the assault was actor Mel Gibson, one of her clients and a friend.
He is expected to testify later in the trial.
The issue came up involuntarily, when she was giving Gibson a massage and the actor-director brought up a movie that he might be working with Weinstein on.
“I went into shock and I started crying,” she said.
“He was the first person that I finally opened up with about what happened. I told him that he sexually assaulted me, but I didn’t want to get into all the details, I was embarrassed and humiliated.”