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Harvey Weinstein’s fate in New York County hinges largely on whether the 12 men and women of the jury believe that he sexually assaulted two particular individuals.
One of those individuals, a former production assistant named Miriam “Mimi” Haley, took the stand on Monday morning to tell her story of being sexually assaulted by Weinstein in 2006.
Haley first met Weinstein in 2004 at an afterparty for The Aviator, later running into him at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006, after her boss, British producer Michael White, had become sick.
At Cannes, she asked Weinstein about working on one of his productions in New York City, and was later given a gig as a production assistant on Project Runway.
It was in New York, at Weinstein’s apartment in SoHo, when Haley says that he orally sexually assaulted her.
At first, she said, Weinstein was “friendly, normal” and welcomed her to the loft apartment, asking her if she wanted something to drink. They sat on opposite ends of a sofa.
“At some point, he came toward me and lunged at me, trying to kiss me,” Haley told the jurors. “I got up from the sofa and I said, ‘Oh, no.’ I kind of rejected him and pushed him away and he just came back and kept kissing me and fondling me. I got up and tried to walk away from him, but he pulled me toward him. He was kind of walking toward me and I was walking backward trying to get away. … I was backed into a bedroom that was on the corner of that open space area, through the door. I walked backward because he was pushing me with his body until I got to the bed and I fell backward onto the bed, and I tried to get up and he pushed me down.”
Haley continued: “I rejected him, but he insisted. Every time I tried to get off the bed, he would push me back and hold me down. He pushed me down, he held me down by my arms. At that point, I started realizing what was actually happening.”
She considered her options for escape, but “ultimately, after a while, I checked out. … He forced himself on me orally. I was on my period. I had a tampon on in there. I was mortified. I was just crying, ’no.’ I kept trying to tell him, ‘No, don’t go there.’ … I was in such shock that I just checked out.”
Haley said there were children’s drawings on the wall of the room in which she was assaulted. “Every time I tried to get up, he would push me back down,” she said. “I was trying to get away until I figured it was pointless.”
After the alleged assault, Haley said she told a roommate about what happened but did not call the police. “I thought about my options, but I decided that going to the police was not an option for me,” she said. “Obviously Mr. Weinstein has a lot more power and resources and connections. I didn’t think I would really stand a chance.”
Approximately two weeks later, on July 26, 2006, Haley met Weinstein at the TriBeCa Grand Hotel. “I feel like I was trying to regain some sort of power or something,” she said.
She was sent upstairs to Weinstein’s room. “Almost instantly, he just took my hand and pulled me toward the bed,” Haley said on Monday, beginning to cry. “I just laid there. He had intercourse with me. … I was laying there motionless. I felt numb.” (Weinstein called her “a whore and a bitch,” she said.)
“The first incident was deeply embarrassing, but I didn’t blame myself,” Haley said. “The second time, I hadn’t struggled enough.” (The second alleged assault is not part of the indictment.)
Asked by assistant district attorney Meghan Hast how she dealt with the alleged assaults, Haley said: “Honestly, I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I just put it in a box and carried on as usual.”
She decided to continue having a professional relationship with Weinstein, and continued to communicate with him regarding work opportunities. Haley later met with him in London to pitch him an idea she had and, a few years later, emailed him to say that she was becoming a yoga teacher.
After Haley’s prosecution testimony concluded, she was cross-examined by defense attorney Damon Cheronis, who pointed out that Haley saw Weinstein at Cannes in 2008, two years after the alleged assaults. She called him that same year and signed a 2008 email to Weinstein, “Lots of Love, Miriam.”
“When you saw him in Cannes, you didn’t walk away from him in the other direction, did you?” Cheronis asked her.
Weinstein’s lawyer focused in on the fact that Haley crossed off parts of multiple May 2006 calendar entries mentioning her contact with the defendant. “Why would you cross off Harvey’s assistant off there?” he asked.
Cheronis also focused on a July 2006 cross-off that he said obscured an entry that contained contact information for Weinstein’s assistant.
“I scribbled over a lot of things,” Haley said later in her testimony. When questioned by the prosecution, she said she never crossed out anything “to hide what was written.”
While Haley said she “didn’t recall” whether she had contact with Weinstein while she visited California in July 2006, her calendar included an entry for “HW 5 p.m.,” which suggested that she met or talked to him on the trip, which immediately followed the alleged sexual assault. She clarified later that she did not see him.
In an entry for the three days in late July 2006 that followed an undesired sexual encounter with Weinstein, Haley had drawn hearts on her calendar. (The hearts were “certainly not” related to Weinstein, she said later.)
Another calendar entry, Cheronis said, related to Weinstein giving her tickets to fly to London. “You know that Harvey Weinstein paid for that ticket, right?” Cheronis asked. “I know that now, yes,” she replied. A related entry regarding a Weinstein aide, “Call Dan to see if I can go,” was completely crossed out. (Haley flew to London on Aug. 2, 2006.)
An early September 2006 email from Haley to a Weinstein assistant, highlighted for the jury, showed that Haley said she was “totally bummed” to miss him.
Haley later met with Weinstein in London to share an idea she had for an online show called Trash TV. “I thought he was a successful producer who knew a lot,” Haley explained, and she said she didn’t fear him at the time of the meeting: “He wasn’t pursuing me in that manner anymore, so I thought I was safe after that.”
At the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, Haley received tickets from Weinstein. She reached out to Weinstein in February 2009 via email, telling him that she planned to become a yoga teacher and adding, “I just wanted to announce myself available for work if you have happen to, by any chance, have anything shooting in London. I’ll be a runner, whatever. I’d really appreciate any leads. My cat needs feeding!”
Haley sent “maybe a couple” scripts penned by her friends to Weinstein over the years, she said.
Summing up their relationship for the jury, Cheronis argued that Weinstein was “useful” for Haley. “You wanted a connection with Mr. Weinstein to help your career,” he said. “The truth of the matter is that you had a consensual relationship with Mr. Weinstein. The truth is that you had a friendship with Mr. Weinstein.”
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