Harvey Weinstein’s former personal driver took the stand Thursday, saying he dropped his client off at the Peninsula around 12:30 a.m. on the night an Italian model and actress said she was later raped at another hotel a short distance away – in what prosecutors painted as a timeline that seems to keep evolving.
But before prosecutors could get to grilling Alfred “Freddy” Baroth about his temporal sense, he gave a window into what working for a before-the-fall Weinstein might have been like. While Weinstein lawyer Mark Werksman was asking Baroth about answering questions and complying with investigators, the lawyer asked him: “When you see a red light, I assume you stop.”
“With Mr. Weinstein?” was Baroth’s answer, prompting laughter in the courtroom.
On redirect, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson asked what Baroth had meant by that answer.
“If we were running late,” Baroth said, “there was no such thing as a red light. If we were in a hurry we would go through it.”
Baroth was sworn in first thing Thursday as Jane Doe 1, the model-actress whose 2013 alleged assault was the first charging case presented by Los Angeles prosecutors, had wrapped her testimony the night before. The driver said he started Limousines of Los Angeles in 2009/2010, with 60% or more of his business coming from Weinstein and his company. He stopped working as Weinstein’s personal driver in 2017 after the disgraced producer’s arrest, and said he has given testimony twice in 2019 to police, and once to a grand jury in 2021.
Baroth testified that Weinstein preferred to stay at the Peninsula, which he described as “a five- or six-minute drive” to Mr. C’s. He said Weinstein never stayed at Mr. C’s, but would go to dinner and attend functions there.
Jane Doe 1 testified over three days that she was staying at Mr. C’s during LA Italia Fest on Feb. 17, 2013, “barely” spoke to Weinstein that night, and went back to her room sometime after midnight. She was unable to establish a clear sense of exactly when Weinstein showed up, unannounced and very much to her surprise, then talked his way in and raped her.
Baroth said he drove Weinstein that night, as he did all week during LA Italia Fest. Though he couldn’t remember his schedule from that day, prosecutors produced an email from Weinstein’s assistant saying he was scheduled to be dropped of at LA Italia Film Festival at 8:45.
Thompson pointed out that Baroth told his team of prosecutors that he dropped Weinstein off at the Peninsula at 1 a.m.; but told defense attorney Mark Werksman it was 12:30; and told Los Angeles police in 2019 “I got done with Mr. Weinstein around 1:30 a.m.,” which was the time he also told a grand jury in March.
Thompson also challenged Baroth on his statement that he answered all questions police had asked. Showing a transcript, Thompson noted that in his Beverly Hills Police Department interview in 2019, when he was asked about sexual assault allegations, Baroth said “Don’t push me.”
Baroth testified that he didn’t recall saying that.
“You then said, ‘It’ll be a long drive home,’ meaning you will refuse to answer further questions?” Thompson shot back.
Baroth replied: “Absolutely not!”
Baroth was excused and court took a short recess.
Weinstein faces 11 charges of sexual assault from allegations spanning from 2004-2013. The trial is expected to last into December after a two-week jury selection process seated a panel last Thursday of nine men and three women. Weinstein could face up to 140 years in prison if convicted.
He is already serving 23 years in a New York prison for criminal first-degree sexual assault and third-degree rape, a conviction he has been granted the right to appeal. Weinstein has maintained his innocence since the New York Times first published accusations against him five years ago this month.
More to come …