Harvey Weinstein’s defense mounted a blistering cross-examination Friday of a key prosecution witness, highlighting her self-described “fuzzy” evolving memories, acceptance of gifts and career help from the disgraced producer and questioning why she continued to visit his hotel room alone after multiple alleged assaults.
Lead defense attorney Mark Werksman was at the podium this time – not Alan Jackson, the pugnacious inquisitor who had been doing cross-examinations in Weinstein’s Los Angeles rape trial so far – to question Jane Doe 3, a professional massage therapist. JD 3 spent most of Wednesday and Thursday on the stand, telling how Weinstein hired her for a massage, molested and masturbated in front of her, promised not to do it again – and then did multiple more times on subsequent visits.
Werksman picked up quickly Friday on what any casual observer might: that despite the alleged prior assaults, JD 3 kept agreeing to meet with him alone in his room. He focused on the fourth encounter, when she brought her boss to a meeting with Weinstein at the Peninsula hotel, where she says Weinstein dismissed her male companion mid-meeting and whisked her up to his room for another unwanted sexual act.
Werksman asked point-blank why she went upstairs that day.
“I was scared and I was embarrassed and humiliated,” she said, crying and her voice rising in volume.
“Nevertheless,” Werksman replied, “no one forced you to leave the restaurant at the Peninsula and go upstairs with Mr. Weinstein.”
Still crying, she all but shouted: “My ego forced me to!”
She said she went back for a second massage after Weinstein promised in a text that “I won’t do it again,” telling him upon arrival that she wouldn’t let him touch her. That’s when she says Weinstein told her “we’re no longer close friends” – but flashed his penis at her multiple times and later continued to offer her premiere tickets and push a deal for a book about massage.
“That was part of the deal you made with him right? You watch him have sex, he’ll put you on the list for movie premieres,” said Werksman, producing emails between the two where she accepts multiple invitations, at one point asking for a plus-one to the Weinstein Company’s “The Artist.”
“No,” she replied.
Werksman began his cross Friday by questioning gaps in Jane Doe 3’s memory, which she says is the reason she had differing accounts for each incident. She testified that “somatic healing” and an emotional-intelligence seminar helped her retrieve memories that she had blocked.
“You told [police in 2019] that the first time you gave Mr. Weinstein a massage, nothing happened. That you went back because you felt safe,” Werksman said.
“I can see why I said that because my memory at the time was very foggy,” she replied.
“I appreciate your candor about this, because your memory was foggy.”
“It’s clear now, but then it wasn’t,” she said. “To my recollection, that’s what I recalled.”
“I understand you want to attribute it to a faulty memory, but I want to be clear for this jury,” Werksman said. “At the time you had such a faulty recollection that you thought you were molested the second time you massaged him, not the first, yes or no?”
At one point Werksman went back to the Peninsula meeting with Weinstein and her boss.
“Here’s a man you said did horrible things to you and deeply traumatized you,” Werksman said. “But you were still willing to use him to get a meeting with [your boss] … why didn’t you tell [him] ‘I will not go upstairs with this man?”
“I was still embarrassed,” she said. “It was humiliating.”
“You knew that there was going to be some kind of sexual encounter, true?”
“I knew something was going to happen like he was going to masturbate in front of me,” she replied.
Werksman asked about a time when, perhaps a year later, Jane Doe 3 and her boss ran into Weinstein at one of the movie premieres to which she was invited.
“You walked up to the man who had done despicable things to you and you talked to him at his movie premiere,” he said.
“It was in a public space,” Jane Doe 3 replied.
“You socialize with Mr. Weinstein, with Sean, as if nothing had happened.”
On re-direct, prosecutors sought to clarify why Jane Doe 3’s memories may have faded in and out over time.
“Throughout the years you just hide the memories, so you don’t have to just think about it,” she said, adding that she started “opening her mind” to the traumatic memories around the time she spoke with prosecutors in 2020.
Cross-examination and more re-direct of Jane Doe 3 was expected to continue Friday afternoon.
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.