Weinstein defense suggests rape accuser slept with producer to advance her career


NEW YORK (Reuters) – A lawyer for movie producer Harvey Weinstein on Monday aggressively questioned a onetime aspiring actress who said she was raped by the film producer, asking if she had a relationship with him to advance her career.

Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Criminal Court in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Yang

Jessica Mann, 34, testified on Friday that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in March 2013. She said she maintained some form of relationship with him for years after that.

The 67-year-old former producer has pleaded not guilty to raping Mann and to sexually assaulting another woman, Mimi Haleyi. Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Donna Rotunno, pressed Mann on Monday about her relationship with Weinstein.

“You told us that you were willing to sleep with Harvey Weinstein because you didn’t want him to ruin your acting career, is that correct?” she asked.

“I did not want him to hurt my acting career,” Mann replied.

But, Rotunno answered, “You didn’t have a career to hurt.”

“I was building one,” Mann responded.

Weinstein, who produced films including “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied any nonconsensual sex.

The trial is widely seen as a milestone in the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct.

Mann testified that she met Weinstein in late 2012 or early 2013 at a party in Los Angeles and that he told her he was interested in her as an actress. Soon after that, Mann said, Weinstein invited her to a hotel suite and forced oral sex on her.

After that, she said, “I entered into what I thought was going to be a real relationship with him and it was extremely degrading from that point on,” she said.

She said she did not have intercourse with Weinstein until he raped her at a hotel in Manhattan in 2013.

Mann said that eventually, at a Los Angeles hotel, she told Weinstein she had a boyfriend and wanted to end the relationship. She said Weinstein screamed at her, “You owe me one more time,” dragged her into a bedroom and raped her again.

Weinstein is only facing criminal charges over the alleged 2013 rape in New York.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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