NEW YORK — The prosecution rested in Harvey Weinstein’s sex crimes trial Thursday after the conclusion of questioning of the final accuser, model Lauren Young, who says the ex-movie mogul cornered her in a hotel room bathroom in Beverly Hills in 2013 and masturbated while groping her.
After less than an hour of further questioning, and clarifications and explanations on Young’s her part, she left the witness stand.
“The People rest, judge, thank you,” announced Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi.
Weinstein’s defense team then began presenting their case after lunch. Judge James Burke said the defense “has a number of witnesses to call and we will hear them over the next three to four days. Maybe more, maybe less.”
First up for the defense was Paul Feldsher, a film producer who’s known Weinstein for “the better part of 30 years.” Feldsher also had a friendship with accuser Annabella Sciorra of “Sopranos” fame, who says Weinstein raped her in New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.
In the early 1990s, Feldsher testified, he had a conversation with Sciorra during a long walk in which she talked about personal matters. He said she told him she had done “a crazy thing with Harvey.”
“As I understand it all these years later, there was nothing that she told me that was shocking or alarming, there was nothing stressful,” Feldsher said. “My understanding was that she fooled around with him.”
Defense attorney Donna Rotunno asked if she ever said anything about being forced to do anything.
“No,” Feldsher said. He said he didn’t think he would have been “such a passive friend” not to follow up with Weinstein if he thought he had done something bad to Sciorra.
“It was a long walk and we talked about a lot of personal issues and each other’s lives,” Feldsher said. “If it was something of that nature, I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have pursued it or Harvey.”
Earlier Thursday, defense lawyer Damon Cheronis finished up questioning of Young that began Wednesday, and again focused on what the defense views as discrepancies between her testimony on the stand and what she told prosecutors during interviews over the last two years.
He pointed out that she initially told investigators that the alleged assault took place in a different hotel and only realized it was the Montage Beverly Hills when she went there with investigators.
“Do you remember talking to the (district attorney) in January 2018 and telling them that you were banging on the (bathroom) door, the door got opened and you ran out?” Cheronis asked.
“I did say that, yes,” Young replied.
“And now you’re just saying Mr. Weinstein walked out naked into the (hotel) suite?”
“Yes,” she said.
Did she tell prosecutors she may have “blacked out” at that point?
“I meant I ‘blocked out’ some memories, because I had such a traumatic experience,” Young said.
“So when you told (prosecutors in May 2019) you used all your strength to try and open the door, that was just wrong?” she was asked.
“Yes,” she replied. She said she “recollected all my memories and retraced all my steps.”
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast showed her a transcript of her interview with prosecutors in which she described the bathroom door as a locked sliding door but she didn’t have the strength to open it because she was “in shock.”
She acknowledged making a “mistake” in describing where the door was in the hotel suite. And though she told investigators that she was “pushed” into the bathroom, she said that what she meant to say was that she felt “forced” into the bathroom.
After Young left the stand, her friend, music producer Ryan Beatty, was called to testify. He described her demeanor after the alleged assault, saying she was “hysterically crying.” Young testified that she formed her eventual timeline of events by talking to Beatty but Beatty testified that he couldn’t remember much about their conversations.
Weinstein has not been charged with assaulting Young because the alleged encounter did not occur in New York. She is one of three accusers known as Molineux witnesses who were called by prosecutors to help establish that Weinstein had a pattern of alleged prior bad acts.
Young, 30, said Wednesday on the stand that a friend of Weinstein’s assisted in trapping her in a bathroom with him, and that he groped her, pulled down her dress and masturbated in front of her.
“I stood there in shock … and I went to the door. By that point he was already undressed and he stepped in front of me with his naked body. … I felt so trapped,” Young said.
Young, a model and actress, testified she repeatedly said “no” and voiced she was not interested in a sexual interaction with Weinstein, saying she had a boyfriend.
Final accuser ‘felt so trapped’:Weinstein jury shown drawing of his naked body,
Like accuser Jessica Mann, who testified earlier this week, Young described Weinstein’s genitalia in detail. She also mentioned scarring, as Mann had. While Young was testifying, prosecutors entered into evidence a drawing of Weinstein’s body that Young was asked to make by local police.
On cross-examination Wednesday, Cheronis challenged her timeline of events, noting that she has given three different dates for the encounter to prosecutors. She said she got “confused” because she lost the passwords to her email account.
Cheronis flourished a lacy off-white dress that she said she wore during the encounter but never wore again and only found in her closet “a few days ago.” Cheronis noted that turning over a potential piece of evidence in the middle of a trial made it hard to test for DNA evidence, or the lack of it.
Also Wednesday, prosecutors presented multiple email exchanges between Mann, 34, and Weinstein that show she either ignored his entreaties to meet or declined to respond. These were apparently meant to counter other email exchanges highlighted earlier by the defense that show a friendly relationship between the two for years after she says he raped her.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with five sex crimes, including rape and assault. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.