Harvey Weinstein trial: Roommate backs Mimi Haleyi’s accusation, says ‘it sounded like rape’ – USA TODAY
Patrick Ryan and Maria Puente
Published 12:11 PM EST Jan 28, 2020
NEW YORK – The Harvey Weinstein sex-crimes trial resumed Tuesday with a witness called to corroborate testimony Monday by former production assistant, Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi, who sobbed as she told jurors that she tried to fight off the movie mogul while he sexually assaulted her at his New York City apartment in 2006.
Elizabeth Entin, who was Haleyi’s roommate at the time, said Haleyi told her she had gone to Weinstein’s apartment assuming it was for a work-related meeting.
“And she came in and he started rubbing her shoulders, kissing her, and she said no, no, and he wouldn’t stop, and she said, ‘I’m on my period,’ and he said, ‘I don’t care,’ at which point he threw her down … pulled off her underwear and started (assaulting) her as she was saying no,” Entin said.
Entin said she told her, “Miriam, that sounds like rape….Why don’t you call a lawyer?” Entin said.
“She still just seemed very distraught, and was shaking and didn’t really want to pursue it or talk about it. She wasn’t very present.”
She said that prior to the encounter, she and Haleyi “thought it was just this pathetic older man trying to hit on Miriam and we just had a laugh about it.”
Afterward, she testified, Haleyi was more withdrawn and spent more time in her room. On cross-examination, she said she lost touch with Haleyi in late 2006 or early 2007.
Entin and Weinstein’s lead defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, sparred during cross examination, as Rotunno referred to the “alleged rape” in her questions and Entin insisted that it was rape and that it did happen.
When Rotunno asked her why she didn’t tell Haleyi to stop seeing Weinstein after he showed up at their apartment, Entin said, “I didn’t think that was my place, and I thought an older man could certainly contain himself.”
Besides Entin, several secondary witnesses took the stand Tuesday to testify about records related to the investigation of Weinstein. Prosecutors called a photo editor for the Getty Images photo agency to introduce pictures of Weinstein alongside rich, famous and powerful people, including former President Bill Clinton.
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi argued the pictures show Weinstein had pull with political and world leaders. Rotunno objected, saying “it’s insulting to insinuate that women can’t make decisions just because someone is powerful.”
Judge James Burke allowed the picture of Weinstein with Clinton to remain in evidence, saying that was sufficient to show what Illuzzi wanted to illustrate.
After the Getty editor left the stand, and the lawyers huddled at the bench with the judge, Burke announced that the trial was adjourned for the day.
The rest of the week could see two women testify about alleged, but uncharged, “prior bad acts” by Weinstein — called “Molineux” witnesses — followed by one of the two complaining witnesses, Jessica Mann, who says he raped her at a hotel in 2013.
A third and final Molineux witness is expected to testify next Monday, completing the bulk of a prosecution case that began last Wednesday. The trial opened Jan. 6, with predictions it would last until early March.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with five sex crimes, including rape and sexual assault, stemming from encounters with two women. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all nonconsensual sexual encounters.
During her graphic testimony on Monday, Haleyi, one of two women whose accusations are the basis of the charges against Weinstein, said on the stand she thought, “I’m being raped” and then, she said, she “checked out.”
Haleyi accuses Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her after she went to his apartment for what she thought was a meeting to discuss her working on one of the then-powerful movie mogul’s productions.
Haleyi testified that Weinstein had repeatedly made advances toward her after she met him in 2004, and that she rebuffed him. She testified that he was “offended” by that. She said she told him he had a “terrible reputation” with women. He stepped back and said, ‘What have you heard?’ ”
Weeks later, she testified, there was a second encounter with Weinstein in his hotel room where she says she was sexually assaulted again. She did not mention this alleged encounter when she first went public with her accusations at a press conference in October 2017.
On cross examination, Haleyi acknowledged continued interactions with Weinstein, after the defense displayed on a large screen a friendly email she sent him after they ran into each other in Cannes in 2008.
Haleyi testified she remained in “occasional” contact with Weinstein and that she sent the 2008 email after a newspaper article reminded her of a conversation they had weeks before the alleged assault.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prosecutors began presenting their case against Weinstein last week. So far, witnesses who have taken the stand include “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, who says Weinstein raped her in her apartment in the winter of 1993-94. Weinstein is not charged in connection with her accusation.
Rosie Perez testified Friday to back up Sciorra’s testimony that she told her friend Perez, and only her, about the alleged rape by Weinstein.
Forensic psychiatrist Barbara Ziv, an expert on sexual assault victims and their behavior, testified Thursday about dispelling “rape myths,” asserting that victims often do not report assaults and remain in contact with their assailants, an issue expected to be relevant in the trial.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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