NEW YORK — Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sex-crimes trial entered its fifth week Monday as defense lawyers continued cross-examining key accuser Jessica Mann about why she maintained a relationship with him after she says he sexually assaulted her.
Mann, 34, took the stand Monday morning in a cream-colored sweater, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Throughout her cross-examination, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, Donna Rotunno, repeatedly asked Mann why she continued sending friendly, seemingly loving emails to the ex-producer, even after he allegedly raped her in a New York City hotel room in March 2013. She accused Mann of only wanting the benefits of Weinstein’s Hollywood connections, to which Mann fired back that was just Rotunno’s version of events.
Reiterating what she said during the first part of cross-examination Friday, Rotunno added that Mann “manipulated” Weinstein and questioned why she didn’t simply walk away.
Mann responded: “I felt there was an aspect to the way I felt I needed to protect myself that had an element of manipulation.”
Earlier Monday, Weinstein’s defense team unsuccessfully tried to bar the prosecution from bringing in actress Emanuela Postacchini as a witness, whom Mann says had a consensual threesome with her and Weinstein. Mann testified that she was left shaken and uncomfortable by the sexual encounter, and started crying midway through.
Weinstein’s defense lawyer Damon Cheronis argued that “Ms. Posticinni cannot speak to Ms. Mann’s state of mind” during the threesome.
“Ms. Posticinni is an eyewitness to how a witness, Jessica Mann, was interacting with the defendant at a time when she was saying nice, loving things to (Weinstein) over email,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi argued. “Her testimony is crucial, as an eyewitness to the relationship between Ms. Mann and the defendant.”
The prosecution had been expected to wrap up its case against the former movie producer by calling a final, sixth accuser to testify Monday.
Mann spent most of Friday on the stand, describing how Weinstein raped her in a New York hotel room in 2013, a central allegation in the charges against him.
Mann, 34, cried as she testified about multiple sexual encounters she had with Weinstein – some consensual, some not and most of them occurring in Los Angeles County.
Mann described how she entered into a secret and “degrading” sexual relationship with the powerful producer as she struggled to make it as an actress in Hollywood.
After the New York encounter, she acknowledged sending him numerous emails, some of them flattering, because “his ego was so fragile,” she said, and it “made me feel safe…I wanted to be perceived as innocent and naive.”
Months later, she says, he raped her in a hotel in Los Angeles where she worked as a hairdresser, after she told Weinstein that she was dating an actor. He became enraged, she said.
“You owe me one more time!” she said he screamed at her.
Mann, who grew up in what she called a “cult-like” Pentecostal church in a small, rural town in Wisconsin, moved to Los Angeles at the age of 25.
Mann’s testimony at times caused gasps in the courtroom, and loud objections from the defense table. At one point, she described Weinstein’s genitalia, said he had terrible scarring, and that she stayed in a relationship with him because she thought he threatened her father.
Contributing: Associated Press
Last week, aside from Mann, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff were called to testify; they have accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting them in the mid-2000s, although neither can press charges due to the statute of limitations.
They were presented as “prior bad acts” witnesses aimed at helping prosecutors prove Weinstein had an alleged pattern as a serial predator.
Judge James Burke said Monday that Wulff is expected to return to the stand on Tuesday.
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Weinstein, 67, is charged with five sex crimes, including rape and assault, stemming from encounters with Mann and another accuser, Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi, who tearfully testified in court last Monday.
He has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.