Weinstein accuser details assault, challenged over emails

By: AFP      Published: 09:08 PM, 28 Jan, 2020
Weinstein accuser details assault, challenged over emails

One of Harvey Weinstein's main accusers told his rape trial Monday that the ex-Hollywood producer forcibly performed oral sex on her in a children's bedroom in his New York home.

Defense lawyers ferociously challenged Mimi Haleyi's account during cross-examination, saying emails she sent Weinstein showed the pair were in "a consensual relationship." Haleyi, a production assistant on reality TV show "Project Runway," cried as she told the Manhattan court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in July 2006 while she was on her period.

She described how the "Pulp Fiction" producer, then three times her weight, initially appeared "friendly" before backing her into a bedroom with children's drawings on the wall. 

"He was kissing and fondling me," Haleyi, 42, said. "I expressed to him the entire time that I don't want this to happen," she, added, sobbing.

Weinstein pushed her onto the bed and forcibly performed oral sex on her after pulling out her tampon, she said during the fourth day of testimony in the trial symbolic to the #MeToo movement. "Physically I was trying to get away (but) I figured it was pointless and I basically checked out," Haleyi told the court.

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual assault since allegations against him first ignited the #MeToo movement in October 2017. But he faces charges related to just two women: Haleyi, and actress Jessica Mann, who says Weinstein raped her in 2013.

Weinstein faces life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges against him, those of predatory sexual assault. Finnish-born Haleyi said she opted not to report the alleged attack out of fear she would be expelled from the United States for failing to have a valid work visa. "I thought going to the police wasn't an option for me," she said, adding that Weinstein "had a lot more power and connections" as well.

Weinstein claims all of his sexual relationships were consensual. During cross-examination by defense attorney Damon Cheronis, Haleyi said she had intercourse with Weinstein about two weeks after the alleged attack.

She said Weinstein "grabbed" her by the arm and led her to the bed.

"Were you assaulted?" asked Cheronis.

"I didn't resist," replied Haleyi.

Cheronis produced a deluge of emails and correspondence showing that she had remained in contact with Weinstein for years after the alleged assault.

Two months after the incident, in September 2006, on learning that Weinstein was in London, she wrote an email to his assistant which said: "I'm totally bummed to have missed you guys. I tried to change my flight but couldn't," it added.

In one, written two years after the incident, Haleyi wrote: "Hi Harvey, how are you? Great to see you." She signed it "Lots of Love."

"You had a consensual relationship with Mr Weinstein," Cheronis said to Haleyi. "You had a friendship with Mr Weinstein," he added.

"I had a professional relationship with Mr Weinstein," Haleyi replied.

The trial continues.

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