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California Governor's Wife To Testify In Sexual Assault Trial Of Harvey Weinstein
Filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who is married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, spoke out against Harvey Weinstein in a 2017 essay and has now told reporters she is one of the alleged victims in the California case against him.
Award-winning documentarian and first partner to California’s governor will be one of several high-profile women expected to testify in Harvey Weinstein’s upcoming trial.
Legal proceedings for the latest case against Harvey Weinstein, 70, began Monday in a Los Angeles courtroom, where the former Hollywood fixture faces multiple sexual assault charges. Of Weinstein’s five accusers in this case — referred to in court documents only as “Jane Doe” or by their initials — only one has agreed to be publicly identified, her attorney told the Los Angeles Times: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom
“Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein at a purported business meeting that turned out to be a trap,” said attorney Elizabeth Fegan. “She intends to testify as his trial in order to seek some measure of justice for survivors and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women.”
Fegan said her client will not discuss the matter outside the courtroom.
Of the countless women who’ve come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault — laying the foundation for the historic #MeToo movement — many are well-known, as echoed by one of Weinstein’s attorneys, Mark Werksman, per the Times.
“Some of the victims, people will recognize them,” Werksman stated. “Some of these women, you’ve seen them in movies, they’ve been in ad campaigns, a couple of them have achieved some success as actresses and models.”
Public figures who’ve previously come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual abuse and other inappropriate behavior include Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, and the recently-deceased Anne Heche, according to People.
One of Weinstein’s accusers in the Los Angeles case is said to be Lauren Young, a model and actress who testified in Weinstein’s first sexual assault trial in New York, albeit not as a plaintiff: her testimony helped prosecutors illustrate the defendant’s pattern of abuse, according to the New York Times. Young’s claims match those of complainant “Jane Doe 2,” the Los Angeles Times noted.
Another accuser, “Jane Doe 1,” spoke to the L.A. Times under the condition of anonymity but is identified as an Italian model who says Weinstein raped her at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the woman behind documentaries such as “The Mask You Live In” and “Miss Representation,” is now identified as the woman referred to in court documents as “Jane Doe 4,” according to KTLA.
Newsom penned an essay in the HuffPost back in 2017 titled “Harvey Weinstein and the End of Open Secrets” following coverage by the New York Times, and soon followed it with a second essay titled “The Wreckage of Men Like Harvey Weinstein.”
“Based on my years in the industry and, unfortunately, my own personal experience with Harvey Weinstein, I can tell you that I believe every single word that was written in the extremely disturbing, but not all that shocking, New York Times piece published yesterday,” Mrs. Newsom wrote.
”I was naive, new to the industry, and didn’t know how to deal with his aggressive advances — work invitations with a friend late-night at The Toronto Film Festival, and later an invitation to meet him about a role in The Peninsula Hotel, where staff were present and then, all of a sudden, disappeared like clockwork, leaving me alone with this extremely powerful and intimidating Hollywood legend,” she continued.
Weinstein faces nearly a dozen sexual assault charges in California, including counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration by use of force. Prosecutors contend the movie mogul assaulted five women in luxury hotels between 2004 and 2013.
Aside from the five accusers, other alleged victims — for whom their allegations did not meet the criteria for this case or whose cases fell under separate jurisdictions — are also expected to testify about their encounters with Weinstein.
Initial charges in the case were filed in 2020 by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, but these proceedings were delayed in light of Weinstein's landmark trial in New York.
He still maintains any sexual contact between him and his alleged victims was consensual.
Jury selection began on Monday, and the trial expected to last about eight weeks, according to the New York Times. Weinstein, in ailing health, entered the Los Angeles courtroom in a wheelchair with his assistant, Barbara Schneeweiss, who is also expected to testify in the trial.
“As Mr. Weinstein sits before you, he is innocent,” Judge Lisa B. Lench reminded potential jurors due to the massive media coverage surrounding the case.
Werksman called the media coverage of his client a “P.R. nightmare,” citing his client’s New York trial as the “trial of the century,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“There are a lot of people who may not be fluent in, or familiar with, the details, but they’re carrying around this general impression,” Werksman stated.
Opening statements by the prosecution and Weinstein’s defense are expected to begin in two weeks. If convicted, Weinstein faces up to 135 years behind bars, according to the Times.