Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife broke into tears Monday after being asked in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to identify former film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is charged with raping and sexually assaulting her in 2005.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom — who was referred to in court only as “Jane Doe #4” but has been publicly identified by her attorney — told jurors in Weinstein’s sexual assault trial that she met the ex-entertainment industry figure at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2005.
She responded affirmatively when asked if she could identify him in court, becoming emotional before telling jurors, “He’s wearing a suit and a blue tie, and he’s staring at me.”
She said she was with a “bunch of peers, friends” during a gathering when she noticed a “big person coming towards me” and felt like “everybody sort of backed away” before Weinstein came over and introduced himself to her at what she believed was a hotel during the Toronto Film Festival.
“He was like the kingmaker. He was like the top of the industry,” she said under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez. “I was a working actress … I had little roles.”
Of Weinstein’s approach, she said it “felt like the Red Sea was parting. I don’t know if it was deference or fear.”
She said she felt a bit intimidated, but thought that he was charming and that he initially treated her like he was “really curious” about her and her career.
She was due back on the stand for more questioning after Monday’s lunch break.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told jurors during the prosecution’s opening statement that “Jane Doe #4” — whom he did not name — is now married to California’s governor and showed the panel a photo of the couple, but said she was a “powerless actor trying to make her way in Hollywood” when she met Weinstein 17 years ago.
The prosecutor said last month that the woman is expected to testify about the alleged attack in a hotel room at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills.
“Jane Doe #4” reported that she was “crying and shaking” after Weinstein allegedly took her by the arm from a hotel room bathroom, pulled her onto the bed and told her, “Relax, this is going to make you feel better,” according to the prosecutor.
One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Mark Werksman, countered that two of the alleged victims named in the charges “just made it up” and that it was “transactional sex” for the other two women.
“You will see that these were all consensual sexual relations or, in some cases, they didn’t happen at all,” Werksman said. “Mr. Weinstein is an innocent man who is not guilty of the charges in this indictment.”
Of “Jane Doe #4,” Werksman said then that she has been a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, and said that, “Otherwise, she’d be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”
Weinstein, now 70, was indicted on 11 charges — including forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by a foreign object and sexual battery by restraint — involving five women. But the prosecutor made no mention in his opening statement about Jane Doe #5, who is named in four of the counts in the grand jury’s indictment.
At a subsequent hearing outside the jury’s presence, Werksman complained to Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench that the prosecution has a “legal and ethical duty if they know they cannot make charges in a case to dismiss them.”
Thompson countered that “Jane Doe #5” is “still a possibility,” with the judge subsequently refusing to dismiss the charges involving that woman or to force the prosecution to dismiss them.
Weinstein began his entertainment career as a concert promoter and then, with his brother Bob, created Miramax Films, which produced a number of “iconic and award-winning films” including “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Shakespeare In Love,” among others, the prosecutor noted. The movies launched the careers of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Quentin Tarantino and Gwyneth Paltrow, Thompson said.
Weinstein’s attorney countered that the allegations “can be traced directly to the #MeToo movement,” and said that his client “became the epicenter of the #MeToo movement.”
Werksman told jurors that Weinstein’s accusers were “women who willingly played the game by the rules applied back then” and now “claim they were raped and sexually assaulted.”
“He’s not Brad Pitt or George Clooney. He’s not hot,” Weinstein’s lawyer said. “They had sex with him because he was powerful …”
Weinstein was extradited from New York, where he was convicted of raping an aspiring actress and of a criminal sex act against a former production assistant. The state’s highest court has since agreed to hear his appeal involving that case.
He remains behind bars.