Jennifer Siebel Newsom took the stand Tuesday for a second day of cross-examination that focused on the quality of her memories and evolving narrative around what she claims was a rape at the hands of Harvey Weinstein in 2005. But before she did, one of the criminal trial’s minor cliffhangers was finally resolved.
Court opened with prosecutors saying they will not proceed with charges relating to Jane Doe 5, asking the judge to drop counts eight through 11 – two counts each of forcible rape and oral copulation – leaving a total of seven charges: two of rape and five of sexual assault. Prosecutors had left open the possibility that Jane Doe 5 might testify, but since the moment she was left out of last month’s opening statements, this outcome was widely expected.
Newsom on Monday endured a grueling day of testimony, publicly disclosing for the first time details of an assault she alleges happened when she was still an aspiring actress, yet to met her future husband. She became extremely emotional telling the jury that Weinstein called her for a meeting at the Peninsula and aggressively raped her after an hours-long “cat-and-mouse” game.
On Tuesday, her second day of cross-examination, defense attorney Mark Werksman peppered her with fast questions meant to highlight her difficulty remembering details and cast doubt on whether the sex was truly nonconsensual. That line of inquiry would come as no big shock, as Werksman called Newsom a “bimbo who slept with Harvey” for career purposes in his opening statement last month.
Werksman poked at discrepancies between her statement to the district attorney, and subsequently a grand jury. That led to Newsom letting on that when she first came forward, she never imagined she would be testifying in Weinstein’s criminal trial.
“I don’t recall being very prepared for very much of this with everything going on in my life,” she said, tearing up again. “I offered to talk to detectives initially to support other women, not to be up here on the witness stand.”
Werksman noted that by the time she came forward, “you’re the wife of the governor of California … and you’re about to meet with the police and a deputy DA, and you didn’t think that the consequence of what you said was that you would be a victim in an indictment in a criminal indictment?”
Werksman again focused on details that she held back at first but emerged later in the investigation – like that she used her hand on Weinstein’s penis and faked having an orgasm to make him finish more quickly.
“As we’ve gotten closer to this and it’s gotten more real, my need to clarify and be more detailed” increased, she said. “I had everything in a box, and I’ve been slowly sharing a little bit at a time, because this is so painful.”
“It was to expedite his experience so I could get out of there,” she added, at some point later saying “this is so gross … that word … (orgasm).”
Werksman also highlighted the amount of time she said she had spent in Weinstein’s room – a period Newsom estimated was two to four hours. Newsom testified Monday that Weinstein pursued her around the suite as she tried to be “polite” and continually backed away.
“We were on the couch because he was trying to console me,” she said. “And the cat-and-mouse was a long period of time.”
She said she wasn’t certain, but it was between two and four.
Werksman soon worked his way to the heart of it, going back to his opening-statement theory:
“You thought that you could advance professionally by having a relationship with Mr. Weinstein, no? … you want to deny you had a relationship, but you wanted to take advantage of his stature to advance your career, correct?”
Newsom was hesitant to sign on to that framing.
“Just answer the question, did you or did you not?” he asked.
“Your energy is just so intense,” she said. “You’re just adding things.”
“Well why don’t you correct me?” Werksman said. “Did you believe you could benefit professionally from having an association with Harvey Weinstein?”
“Yeah, sure,” she said.
After a late morning break, Newsom returned to the stand and agreed with Werksman that Weinstein never acknowledged that she was crying at any point during the encounter. She also said Weinstein began to “manipulate” the narrative, acting moony and saying things like “I could be your boyfriend.”
“By saying ‘I could be your boyfriend,’ he was indicating that he thought you had a pleasurable experience?” Werksman said. Newsom responded that it was manipulation.
“You had faked an orgasm,” he said.
“It was not long,” she shot back. “This is not ‘When Harry Met Sally.'”
Werksman: “You indicated your pleasure.”
Newsom: “I did not indicate my pleasure.”
Werksman: “Except for the part that you were faking an orgasm.”
Newsom: “That word is not right.”
Werksman: “You felt afterward that you had been used.”
Newsom: “100 percent.”
Werksman: “But you followed up with him to see if you get a role in the movie ‘Nanny Diaries,’ correct? … and you did submit audition tapes, correct?”
Werksman also worked over multiple emails that Newsom sent to Weinstein or his assistants asking for in-person meetings at various points in Toronto and New York.
After reading from one, Werksman said: “You could never tell from the tone or tenor of this email that this man had done despicable things to you.”Was your intent to project an airy and upbeat tone?”
“To pretend in my head that nothing had happened,” she replied.
Testimony was set to begin after a lunch break Tuesday.
Editors note: The headline on an earlier version of this story incorrectly enumerated counts dropped against Weinstein.