California governor’s wife tearfully testifies in Weinstein rape trial

LOS ANGELES — Jennifer Siebel Newsom, documentary filmmaker and wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, nearly cried through tears from the witness box on Monday when she told court that Harvey Weinstein raped her in a bedroom. hotel and spoke of the devastating effect it had on her over the next 17 years.

“He knows it’s not normal!” she cried during the Los Angeles trial, recalling her thoughts amid the alleged 2005 rape. “He knows that’s not consent!”

She then shouted “Oh my God!” as though overcome by memory, and gave way to tears. Weinstein watched from the defense table.

Siebel Newsom said she unexpectedly found herself alone with Weinstein in a suite at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, where she agreed to join him for a meeting. She said she assumed others would be there and talk about her career.

When he came out of the bathroom in a bathrobe with nothing underneath and started groping her while he masturbated, she described her feelings.

” Horror ! Horror ! she says. “I’m shaking. I’m like a rock, I’m frigid. This is my worst nightmare. I’m just an inflatable doll!”

She then gave a graphic description of a sexual assault and rape by Weinstein in the bedroom of the suite.

A 23-year sentence and a trial with 11 other charges

Weinstein’s attorneys, who were only able to cross-examine her briefly and will prosecute on Tuesday, said the two had consensual sex and that she was seeking to use the powerful producer to advance her career.

Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence for a rape conviction in New York and has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault in California involving five women.

Siebel Newsom is the fourth woman Weinstein has been charged with sexual assault to speak out in Los Angeles. His testimony was the most dramatic and moving to date in the three-week trial. She cried throughout her 2.5 hours on the stand, starting when she was asked to identify Weinstein, 70, for the record.

“He’s wearing a suit and a blue tie, and he’s looking at me,” she said as the tears started to flow.

Now 48, Siebel Newsom has described how Weinstein first approached her to perform at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005. At the time, she was a producer and actress with only a few small roles , and he was at the height of his Hollywood power. .

“It felt like the Red Sea was parting,” she said, watching the others in the room make way for him. “I don’t know if it was deference or fear.”

But she said when they had a drink later that day he was ‘lovely’ and showed ‘genuine interest in talking about my work’.

He was in the Los Angeles area a few weeks later, stopping by her house at a small party to drop off a gift and inviting her to the hotel meeting.

“I didn’t know how to escape”

She described how nervous she was after being directed to her hotel suite. Asked by Assistant District Attorney Marlene Martinez why she didn’t walk away, she replied, “Because you’re not saying no to Harvey Weinstein.”

“He could make or ruin your career,” she said.

Afterwards, she said she felt “so ashamed”.

“I was so raped and I don’t know how it happened,” she sobbed. “I didn’t see the clues and I didn’t know how to escape.”

Siebel Newsom is known as Jane Doe #4 during the trial, and since the other Weinsteins are charged with rape or sexual assault, her name is not mentioned in court. But the prosecution and defense identified her as the governor’s wife at trial, and Siebel Newsom’s attorney confirmed to The Associated Press and other media that she was Jane Doe #4.

The AP generally does not name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they have come forward publicly.

Weinstein has had many famous accusers, including high-profile actors, since becoming a magnet for the #MeToo movement in 2017. But none of the women telling their stories at the trial have had the notoriety of Siebel. Newsom – wife of the man who last week sailed for a second term as governor of the nation’s most populous state and could run for the White House. The governor was not in the courtroom on Monday.

During cross-examination, Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, repeatedly pressed Siebel Newsom to know when she told her husband about the assault, pointing out in a transcript of an interview with prosecutors in 2020 that she said Newsom was “maybe” the first person she spoke to. The attorney was the first to say the name “Gavin Newsom” during testimony, and repeated it often.

She said she “leaved clues along the way” over the years after meeting him when he was mayor of San Francisco. And he got the full account when women’s stories about Weinstein went mainstream in 2017. He would return Weinstein’s former political donations then.

The impact of trauma

Werksman suggested the couple solicited donations from Weinstein at a time when Newsom needed to know his story.

He took money “from someone who you implied did something despicable to you?” Werksman asked.

“It’s complex,” replied Siebel Newsom.

“Well, is it just politics,” Werksman asked, “that you just took money from someone who did something despicable to your wife unless everyone finds out ?”

Siebel Newsom denied Werksman’s suggestion that new elements of the alleged assault that she had not described in interviews with prosecutors or grand jury testimony first surfaced in her testimony on Tuesday.

He said he wanted to know why his story changed.

“We’ve all heard you being very emotional,” he said. “You’ve had plenty of time to think about it over the past 17 years.”

Siebel Newsom said she spent much of that time trying not to think about it.

“It’s very traumatic, sir,” she said.

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