A Norwegian model took the stand in Harvey Weinstein’s trial on Wednesday and testified that the former movie mogul allegedly raped her, masturbated in front of her and propositioned her for a threesome.
The complex testimony spanned a series of events over a number of years. The alleged incidents occurred during industry events such as the BAFTA Awards, New York Fashion Week, the Cannes Film Festival and AFI Fest, as well as an audition for the musical film “Nine,” which was distributed by The Weinstein Company in 2009.
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Weinstein’s defense questioned the woman, known in the case as Natassia M., as to why she agreed to see Weinstein repeatedly after she alleges she was sexually assaulted. She spoke about the power imbalance between her and Weinstein, telling the jury she was concerned that if she didn’t keep up a friendly relationship with Weinstein, he would blacklist her from the biz.
Natassia M. was called by the prosecution to prove a pattern of conduct, as an uncharged witness in the case. (There are four Jane Does and four uncharged witnesses in the trial.)
“He was called ‘One Phone Call Away Harvey,’ meaning he could make you or break you. He was the most powerful person in Hollywood. He created stars,” Natassia M. said on the stand. “The asymmetrical power situation was so large, I felt like there was this powerful guy who could ruin my career, who had the destiny of people’s life in his hands.”
The first time Natassia M. encountered Weinstein, they had no interaction, but she noticed him staring at her across the room. It was 2002 and she was at the restaurant Cipriani in New York City with Naomi Campbell, with whom she was working on a modeling gig.
“He was sitting in a chair at a restaurant, staring at me, gazing at me for a very long time. He would not break his gaze, so I yelled in the restaurant, ‘Who the fuck is that fat fuck who is sliming me?'” she testified, then stating that Campbell said, “That’s Harvey Weinstein.” She said, “I yelled out, ‘I don’t give a fuck who it is. That guy is sliming me.’”
When Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, questioned Natassia M., he asked her, “‘Who is that fat fucking pig?’ Is that what beautiful models call overweight men?”
Natassia M. continued to chronicle her story. After that moment in 2002, she didn’t come across him again until the Cannes Film Festival in 2003 where she was with her friend, the actor Michelle Rodriguez, and they stayed in a hotel room arranged by Weinstein’s company, but had no actual interaction with him. After that, she saw Weinstein at NYFF in 2007 where she was making the press rounds, per her obligations as the face of a major modeling campaign. At NYFF, when she was at a fashion show for work, her publicist arranged for her to take a photo with Weinstein. She says when they took the photo, he was standing right next to his then-wife, Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman. “Mr. Weinstein’s first comments out of his mouth were, ‘Where are you staying and what’s your room number?'” Natassia M. says she was “flabbergasted” because she had never spoken to Weinstein before in her life.
The next time she saw Weinstein was soon after, at a BAFTA afterparty in London in 2008. The publicist for her modeling campaign arranged for her to once again take photos with Weinstein, thinking it would be good branding. They had a brief interaction at the industry event, took some photos and that was that. Until Weinstein suddenly barged into her hotel room in the middle of the night, unannounced. Natassia M. explained that she has no idea how Weinstein knew where she was staying, but she was woken up in the wee hours of the morning to Weinstein knocking loudly on her door and shouting his name to let her in. She was confused and opened the door. “He just stormed in,” she said.
“He said, ‘No one gets to be an A-lister unless it goes through me!'” she continued. “I just thought this guy is so powerful, I have no idea what to do in this situation and I completely froze … I was just so scared of this guy. He had so much power.”
Natassia M. said Weinstein told her to “think about all the Oscars” that celebrities have won and thanked him during their acceptance speeches. She told the jury she interpreted that as, “Everybody had to go through him — meaning, comply.”
That’s when Weinstein allegedly raped her. “He took off his pants and pushed me on the bed and climbed on top of me and I said to him, ‘I don’t do the casting couch thing.’” She shared graphic details with the jury, recalling, “It didn’t last that long because I had zero response because I just played dead. He got off me and finished off himself. He ejaculated into his hand … I did not fight him. I did not scream. I literally was frozen … I couldn’t think.”
Weinstein left her hotel room shortly after the alleged assault. When she woke up, she noticed a movie script on her nightstand for “Nine,” the theatrical musical that Weinstein produced in 2009. She assumed Weinstein left the script there for her to see.
She did not call the police to report the alleged incident in London “because if you’re an actress and you’re a problem, you don’t work,” she told the jury. “If you are difficult, that thing goes around Hollywood that this person is difficult.”
Natassia M. did not have any more contact with Weinstein in London, but when she was back in Los Angeles where she lived, she wanted to pursue to role in “Nine,” despite the alleged assault. “I wanted to make the best of this situation,” she said. “I thought I could avoid him, but I wanted to earn the part.”
Back in L.A., she signed up for singing and dancing lessons since “Nine” was a musical, and told the jury that she spent a lot of her money on the training because she was so committed to earning the part. She eventually got an audition, and when she showed up, she was stunned and “horrified” that Weinstein was there. “I couldn’t concentrate on my audition. I was thrown off,” she said. “He was sitting right there and I didn’t know he was going to be there.”
After the audition, Natassia M. sent an email with an MP3 recording of a singing demo to Weinstein and his staff. She explained that she paid herself to use a recording studio for the demo because she was taking the role so seriously. She said that Weinstein responded and instructed her not to send the demo tape to his office, and instead told her to meet his assistant at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. She agreed, thinking she’d meet the assistant in the lobby and would never see Weinstein. “I tried to give her the CD, and she said, ‘No, Mr. Weinstein wants you to follow me and talk about the movie.”
When she arrived to Weinstein’s room with his assistant, she gave Weinstein the demo tape and he chuckled and tossed it aside, she said. She suddenly realized that the assistant was gone. “He tricked me to coming into his hotel,” she testified. “All of a sudden, I’m in his hotel room.”
She then noticed another woman in the hotel room. “I can’t believe he has me in this fucking suite with a prostitute. And I was furious,” she said, then telling the jury that they propositioned her for a threesome. Natassia M. told the jury that she was upset and felt coerced, but she wanted the movie role, and thought she could manage the situation.
She thought, “I’ll just pretend I’m really innocent, and not do anything … And this prostitute, who I think is a prostitute, is like, ‘Oh she’s so shy,’ and her and Weinstein were laughing. And she gave him a blowjob.” (The judge blocked the prosecution from naming the woman who was allegedly with Weinstein in the hotel room, though she was also associated with another Jane Doe’s allegations, earlier in the trial.) Natassia M. agreed to participate by putting on a robe and watching Weinstein with the other woman, but told jurors she did not engage and put on an act.
“I was still trying to manage the situation because I really wanted to be able to do a quality movie,” Natassia M. explained. “He has you by the fucking throat, knowing that if you don’t comply that your career is down the drain … and that’s not right.”
After that alleged incident at the Peninsula in 2008, Natassia M. did not see Weinstein until a few years later when she said she randomly bumped into him at an Oscars party that she attended with her boyfriend at Soho House in L.A. When Weinstein saw her, he pulled her aside, she testified, and said, “I thought you were going to go to the tabloids.” She told Weinstein she would never “mess around with the most powerful guy in Hollywood,” and he said, “It pays to be my friend.” She thought, “Shit, I have to pretend to be his friend [and] then maybe, he will fix any damage that he’s done to my career.”
After that conversation, Natassia M. believed that Weinstein blacklisted her, so she told the jury that she figured it would be smart to stay in touch with Weinstein for career purposes. She ended up seeing Weinstein a few more times, mostly at her request, when she would contact him to ask for business meetings with her friends, as a favor. She made arrangements to meet with Weinstein at AFI Fest in Los Angeles with one of her producer friends, which she said resulted in Weinstein asking her back to the Montage hotel where she agreed to watch him shower. In New York City, she had set a meeting with Weinstein and her friend who wanted to discuss incorporating his celebrity connections for charity, and Natassia M. told the jury that the business dinner turned into Weinstein guiding her upstairs to his office and groping and masturbating in front of her.
During cross-examination, Weinsein’s defense showed an email where Natassia M. invited Weinstein to a 2011 Cannes Film Festival party where one of her friends was presenting a film. She wrote, “The film has Oscar written all over it” and signed the email, “Love you Harvey.”
Weinstein’s attorney continuously asked Natassia M. why she remained in contact with Weinstein, suggesting that she wanted to use his power for her own benefit. She said that she only wanted to help her friends, and never expected Weinstein to abuse her again and again. “Usually when people ask me to help them, I say, ‘Yes,'” she said. “But you’re asking for help from someone who raped you,” Weinstein’s attorney Werksman retorted.
“This is like the fourth time that you’ve followed along with some assistant against your will?” Werksman continued.
Natassia M. replied, “Against my inner wishes. And yes … when you’re meeting Mr. Weinstein, you hope things are going to get better.” Shifting to another alleged encounter, Werksman sarcastically asked, “Is there where you said, ‘I can’t believe you’ve gotten me in this situation for now the fifth time, so I’m outta here?’”
Trying to prove that Natassia M. knew what she was getting involved with when she saw Weinstein, his attorney looked at her on the stand and said, “You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get ahead in Hollywood.”
Following the day in court, Gloria Allred, who represents Natassia M., issued a statement to Variety, applauding her client.
“She testified that she told Harvey Weinstein that she did not do ‘the casting couch,’ but despite telling him that, he raped her and engaged in other unwelcome sexual conduct with her,” Allred said, in part. “She was on the witness stand for most of the day, and underwent a rapid fire intense cross-examination by the defense. Despite the many attempts by Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers to discredit her and undermine her testimony, she stood her ground and told her truth. I was very proud of her and the courage that she demonstrated, as she testified in the criminal trial of People vs. Harvey Weinstein today.”
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