California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, took the stand Monday at the trial of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein after going public last month accusing him of allegedly raping her nearly 20 years ago.
Siebel Newsom, who became the fourth woman accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, cried during her testimony in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom when asked to identify if the movie magnate was the person she met at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005.
“Yes,” Siebel Newsom said, according to The Associated Press. “He’s wearing a suit and a blue tie, and he’s staring at me.”
Weinstein, who is serving a 23-year sentence for rape in New York, stands accused of sexually assaulting five women between 2003 and 2014.
During the trial’s opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson said that Siebel Newsom was “a powerless actor trying to make her way in Hollywood” when Weinstein allegedly raped her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2005.
Siebel Newsom said, “it felt like the red sea was parting” when Weinstein approached her in the hotel lobby during her testimony.
“I don’t know if it was deference or fear,” she said, adding the Hollywood producer was “the kingmaker” during that time. “I felt a bit intimidated. He was charming — he treated me initially like he was really curious about me. Maybe flattered is how I felt?”
Siebel Newsom would later meet up with a friend at the hotel bar, where she thought Weinstein took a “genuine interest” in her work.
Before going public, Siebel Newsom identified herself as Jane Doe #4 in court documents, one of the five accusers.
According to the indictment, accuser number four has said Weinstein forcibly raped her in an incident sometime between September 2004 and September 2005. Allegations from the other accusers have resulted in Weinstein being charged with ten other counts, including forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by a foreign object, forcible rape, and sexual battery by restraint.
However, one week after Siebel Newsom came forward with her allegations against Weinstein, an email exchange between the two could prove the two engaged in “consensual sex.”
Los Angeles Judge Lisa Lench ruled Monday that Weinstein’s defense lawyers have grounds to question Siebel Newsom about an email exchange with the former movie mogul in 2007 in which she allegedly asked for advice after accusing him of sexual assault and rape on how to deal with a scandal involving her soon-to-be husband and California’s future governor.
The scandal allegedly involved Governor Newsom, who was San Francisco’s Mayor in 2005, and an aide during his term, Deadline reports.
Lench said the defense could not discuss the underlying issue behind the email, calling it “too tangential in relation to this trial.”
Mark Werksman, a defense lawyer for Weinstein, told the court Monday that Siebel Newsom contacting Weinstein for “advice” would indicate the two had a “friendship and companionship.”
“Of all things you’d think a woman that is raped by Harvey Weinstein wouldn’t do, it’s [ask him] how to deal with a sex scandal,” Werksman said, adding the defense will be that they had an affair, that they had consensual sex.
Werksman’s told jurors during his opening statements last month that Siebel Newsom is “a very prominent citizen of California” who has made herself “a prominent victim in the #MeToo movement,” according to The Associated Press.
“Otherwise,” Werksman said, “she’d be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”
Weinstein was convicted of a first-degree criminal sex act and third-degree rape in 2020. He has denied raping anyone and says all of his sexual encounters were consensual. He was extradited to California last year in anticipation of his second trial, which will feature up to 50 witnesses, says the L.A. County District Attorney’s office.
Earlier this year, a New York Appeals court ruled that Weinstein’s team could argue for another trial or have his conviction dismissed. Weinstein’s lawyers shared various reasons why they believe Weinstein was not given a fair trial and is entitled to a new one, including that they say too many witnesses unrelated to the sexual assault charges were allowed at trial.
“Weinstein’s trial was overwhelmed by excessive, random, and highly dubious prior bad act evidence, none of which shed light on disputed issues relevant to the charged offenses,” Weinstein’s lawyers wrote.