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Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and actress married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, took the stand on Monday as the fourth accuser to testify against Harvey Weinstein in his sexual assault trial, bursting into tears when asked to identify the disgraced movie mogul.
Siebel Newsom described herself as a relatively unknown actress when she met Weinstein at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005, while he was a “kingmaker” at “the top of the industry.” Asked if she saw him in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom, she wept before whispering “yes” into the microphone and looked his direction at the defense table.
“He’s wearing a suit and a blue tie, and he’s staring at me,” she said from the witness stand.
Weinstein allegedly raped Siebel Newsom, who had not yet met her husband, Gov. Gavin Newsom, in Los Angeles after their initial encounter during a meeting he set up to discuss her career. He’s maintained that they had consensual sex.
The Hollywood Reporter doesn’t typically name people who say they were sexually assaulted unless they voluntarily come forward. The wife of the politician who secured last week a second term as governor revealed herself as one of the four Jane Doe accusers in a statement through her attorney in October.
Siebel Newsom said her peers in the entertainment industry “backed off” as Weinstein approached to introduce himself to her.
“It felt like the red sea was parting,” she said. “I don’t know if it was deference or fear.”
Weinstein wanted to know about her and her career, Siebel Newsom testified. They moved to a quieter area to talk.
“I felt a bit intimidated,” she said. “He was charming. He treated me initially like he was really curious about me. Maybe flattered is how I felt?”
Siebel Newsom and her friend later met Weinstein, who she said displayed a “genuine interest in talking about my work,” at a hotel bar.
During opening statements, defense attorney Mark Werksman claimed that Weinstein’s accusers are lying that they were raped. He said Siebel Newsom would “be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood” if she wasn’t married to the governor.
Daphne Zuniga, who starred in Spaceballs and Melrose Place, took the stand on Tuesday as a witness corroborating Siebel Newsom’s account that she was raped by Weinstein. She said the governor’s wife shut down questions about her meeting with the former movie mogul when she asked.
“She just said she had had a meeting with Harvey Weinstein and I asked how it went,” Zuniga testified. “She said, ‘Not good. I don’t want to talk about it.’ And that’s when she [got] upset, and that’s why I didn’t pursue it.”
The defense will ask Siebel Newsom about emails from her seeking advice from Weinstein about navigating fallout from a scandal involving Newsom having an affair with a campaign aide’s wife. Jurors, however, will not be allowed to hear about the affair.
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