Accuser tells jury that Harvey Weinstein forced oral sex on her

Former Hollywood producer has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting two women

Mimi Haleyi, former production assistant, arrives to testify against Harvey Weinstein at his trial for sexual assault in New York on Monday. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/Reuters

Mimi Haleyi, former production assistant, arrives to testify against Harvey Weinstein at his trial for sexual assault in New York on Monday. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/Reuters

 

One of the women who former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is charged with sexually assaulting told a jury on Monday that he forced oral sex on her in his New York home in 2006.

Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant, began testifying in a Manhattan courtroom with Mr Weinstein at the defence table.

Mr Weinstein (67) has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Ms Haleyi and Jessica Mann.

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

Ms Haleyi, now 42, said Mr Weinstein invited her to his SoHo home after she had worked on one of his television productions.

“At some point, fairly soon into meeting him there, he kind of came towards me and lunged at me,” she said. “I got up from the sofa and said, ‘Oh, no, no, no.’”

Ms Haleyi said Mr Weinstein backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her orally. She testified that she told Mr Weinstein she had a tampon in, but that he pulled it out.

Ms Haleyi said she subsequently accepted an invitation from Mr Weinstein to meet him at a Tribeca hotel. “I believe I was trying to regain some sort of power or something,” she said.

When she met him, Ms Haleyi said, Mr Weinstein immediately pulled her on to the bed and had sex with her against her will, calling her a “whore” and a “bitch”.

Ms Haleyi said that she blamed herself for that encounter. Mr Weinstein is not criminally charged over Ms Haleyi’s second allegation.

Mr Weinstein’s lawyers have said that messages from his accusers would show they maintained warm relations with him after the alleged attacks.

Harvey Weinstein arrives in court in New York on Monday. Photograph: Peter Foley/Bloomberg
Harvey Weinstein arrives in court in New York on Monday. Photograph: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Accusations

Last week actor Annabella Sciorra testified that Mr Weinstein violently raped her in her Manhattan apartment in the early 1990s.

While Ms Sciorra’s allegation is too old to support a separate rape charge against Mr Weinstein, prosecutors hope it will show he is a repeat sexual predator – a charge that could put him in prison for life.

Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actors, have accused Mr Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

Mr Weinstein, who reshaped the independent film industry with critically acclaimed pictures such as The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love, has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.

Prosecutors in opening statements last week portrayed Mr Weinstein as a serial predator whose victims experienced shame and humiliation following encounters with him.

The defence maintains the women reframed consensual encounters as nonconsensual after the fact.

Ms Sciorra, who appeared in The Sopranos, testified on Thursday that Mr Weinstein gave her a lift home with his driver after a dinner one winter night in 1993 or 1994. She said that after dropping her off, he knocked on her door unannounced, forced his way in and raped her.

Actor Rosie Perez, a longtime friend of Ms Sciorra, testified on Friday that Ms Sciorra told her about the rape soon after it happened. She said she urged Ms Sciorra to go to the police, but Ms Sciorra refused, saying, “He’d destroy me.” – Reuters