Weinstein accuser who broke down on stand faces third day of cross-examination


NEW YORK (Reuters) – A woman who says Harvey Weinstein raped her is expected to face her third day of cross-examination by the former Hollywood producer’s lawyer on Tuesday, after the previous day was cut short when she broke down in sobs on the witness stand.

Witness Jessica Mann leaves Manhattan Criminal Court after testifying in the trial of Harvey Weinstein in New York, US., on February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Yang

Jessica Mann, 34, began weeping uncontrollably during Weinstein’s rape trial in Manhattan on Monday as she read aloud an email she wrote in 2014 describing Weinstein as a “pseudo father” figure at the direction of Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lawyers.

Mann had testified Friday that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in March 2013, early in what she described as an “extremely degrading” relationship with him. She said the relationship continued in some form 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. He faces life in prison if found guilty of predatory sexual assault, the most serious charge.

Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Weinstein, whose films included “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied the allegations and has said any sexual encounters were consensual.

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.

In the course of her cross-examination, which began Friday, Rotunno repeatedly suggested that Mann willingly had sex with Weinstein to advance her career. At one point she asked whether Mann “manipulated” Weinstein when she sent him friendly messages and asked to see him, even though she was not attracted to him.

“How I handled it to survive and process it, yeah, I guess you could say manipulation,” Mann answered.

Rotunno also confronted Mann with affectionate emails she sent Weinstein after the alleged rape. Mann said she sent Weinstein flattering messages to avoid making him angry and show she was “not a threat.”

Jurors have already heard testimony from Haleyi and three other women who said Weinstein assaulted them.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler

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