Weinstein accuser takes stand in LA after New York testimony

Only accuser to testify at New York and California trials has taken stand to repeat her story of assault by former movie mogul

Five women are expected to take the stand during the two-month case against Harvey Weinstein. AFP
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The New York trial of Harvey Weinstein and its California sequel had a rare crossover on Monday as his only accuser to testify at both took the stand in Los Angeles.

Actress Lauren Young said the former movie mogul sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel bathroom in 2013 while she repeatedly told him “no”.

Ms Young said she was paralysed with fear when Weinstein blocked her from leaving the bathroom, touched his privates in front of her and groped her.

“I was scared of Harvey Weinstein — that he would hurt me, or send someone to hurt me, or ruin my career, or make my life hell,” she told the court.

When Young testified in New York in February of 2020, she was not one of the accusers whose stories would lead to Weinstein's conviction for rape and sexual assault, and a 23-year prison sentence.

But prosecutors called on her to testify to help establish a pattern of him preying on women.

In Los Angeles, Weinstein is charged with sexual battery by restraint for the same accusations.

Young said on Monday that in early 2013, she was a model who was aspiring to be an actress and screenwriter.

She said that through Weinstein's assistant, who had become a friend, she set up a meeting with him at the Montage Hotel on the night of February 19, 2013, about a script she was working on.

Young testified that he was distracted and uninterested during the meeting, suggesting instead that she might be a reality-TV host on a show like America's Next Top Model, which his company helped to produce.

Weinstein soon said he had to get ready to present an award to director Quentin Tarantino at the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival, and she should accompany him to his room to continue the talk.

Young said he led her into the room and then the bathroom, and his assistant shut the door behind them and left them alone.

She said she was stunned as he quickly took his clothes off and got briefly in the shower, then stepped out and blocked her from leaving when she went for the door.

“I was disgusted," Young said. "I had never seen a big guy like that naked. I actually laughed nervously."

She said she backed up against a sink and turned away from him. He then unzipped her dress and groped her with one hand as he touched himself with the other.

“I was really grossed out by his body and the look he was giving me," Young said. "I was wondering, 'how do I get out of here safe? What am I going to do?'"

She said she told him “no" repeatedly. When he finished, she left the hotel and never saw him again.

Like all of the women Weinstein is charged with sexually assaulting at the trial, Young is going by Jane Doe in court.

Young has given her consent through her lawyer to be identified.

Her testimony closely stuck to her account during the New York trial.

But during cross-examination, Weinstein's lawyer Alan Jackson said it differed in many respects from her early accounts to police starting in 2018, when she called a hotline set up for reports about the producer after the #MeToo movement began.

Young initially told detectives that the assault had taken place a year earlier, days after she had been at a dinner with Weinstein at a Beverly Hills restaurant.

Mr Jackson said she was saying the same as recently as 2020.

“I was sure that I was sexually assaulted," Young said.

“That wasn’t my question,” the lawyer replied. “I’m asking about the time. Something that would stick in your mind.”

Mr Jackson also brought up her previous confusion about the site of the assault in early interviews with authorities.

“As you told your story the first three times, you had no idea what hotel this even took place at," he said. “You didn’t even mention the Montage.”

"I had pushed it out of my memory," Young said.

She acknowledged that she didn't know the hotel was the Montage, now known as the Maybourne, until a police detective suggested it might be and she went to look at it.

Allegations in an indictment and court testimony claim Young's assault came the day after Weinstein raped an Italian model at a different hotel during the run-up to that year's Academy Awards, where he was annually a major player.

Weinstein, 70, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving five women, and he has repeatedly denied that he engaged in any sex that was not consensual.

Updated: November 07, 2022, 11:10 PM
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