Forensic psychiatrist Robert Goldstein took the stand on Tuesday (7 November) as a witness for Robert De Niro’s ex-assistant Graham Chase Robinson where he told the court how he had diagnosed her with “generalised anxiety disorder”.
Ms Robinson is suing the 80-year-old Goodfellas actor in a $12m (£9.9m) workplace discrimination lawsuit. She alleges she suffered “extreme emotional distress and reputational harm” during 11 years working at his private company, Canal Productions.
De Niro has countersued, alleging that his former employee stole cash, gift cards, electronic equipment and $450,000 worth of air miles before she quit in 2019 after a major falling out with his girlfriend Tiffany Chen.
Dr Goldstein, a witness for Ms Robinson, testified that she showed symptoms including excessive anxiety, weight loss and insomnia after quitting Canal Productions in 2019.
The Columbia University clinical professor said he had diagnosed Ms Robinson with “generalised anxiety disorder”.
Dr Goldstein said the stress of the lawsuit against De Niro had contributed to her condition, but that it had started while she was still employed at Canal.
“Her perceptions of being discriminated against and retaliated against in her job, that’s what she perceived and those perceptions triggered her psychiatric condition,” Dr Goldstein said.
He was asked about the findings of a psychiatric expert witness hired by the defence, who had testified that Ms Robinson was not suffering from a mental illness.
Dr Goldstein responded that he had seen no evidence that Ms Robinson was faking or exaggerating her condition.
He told the court that Ms Robinson had received nearly four years of intensive psychiatric treatment, and that she would require long-term treatment and medication for her anxiety disorder.
During her testimony last week, De Niro’s partner of five years Ms Chen described Robinson as “psychotic” and having an “imaginary intimacy” with the acclaimed actor.
Ms Chen testified that she and Ms Robinson clashed repeatedly after she began dating Mr De Niro.
In a 2019 text message shown to the court, Ms Chen wrote to another Canal Productions employee: “The whole situation has become very Single White Female.”
Asked to elaborate, Ms Chen said she was referring to a woman who is “obsessive, crazy, and dangerous”.
Ms Chen testified that she believed Ms Robinson fantasised about being in a relationship with the actor.
“I believed she lived her whole life as a fantasy,” she said.
During Ms Robinson’s testimony, phone calls from March 2019 that were secretly taped by Ms Robinson were played to the court.
In one, Ms Robinson said Mr De Niro’s ex-girlfriend had “Munchausen’s”, a reference to the mental disorder in which a person fakes illness, lies about symptoms, or makes themselves purposely unwell.
“She’s f***ing nuts,” Ms Robinson said about Ms Chen in a separate phone call.
She also compared Ms Chen to De Niro’s ex-wife, Grace Hightower.
“Grace I understood. She was the Devil that I knew. She did it by bullying and staring at you…Tiffany is a sociopath. She’s going a completely different way.”
The jury is expected to begin deliberations later this week.