Weinstein Lawyers: Years After Alleged Assault, Jennifer Siebel Newsom Sought Harvey’s Advice in Gavin Newsom Sex Scandal

Weinstein’s lawyers will argue that Weinstein and Siebel Newsom had an affair – and were friendly for years afterwards

Harvey Weinstein and Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Harvey Weinstein and Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers on Monday said that Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom and one of five women set to testify in the disgraced mogul’s Los Angeles trial, sought Weinstein’s advice years after he allegedly sexually assaulted her on how to handle negative press around a sex scandal that was enveloping her then-San Francisco Mayor boyfriend.

The revelations came during pre-trial negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys, and are not the same as sworn testimony. While the jury selection grinds through an expected two-week process, lawyers are using the downtime to chip away at issues around what evidence they can present, and what they can ask potential witnesses – a list of 80-plus people – ahead of time and in open court.

Earlier this month, Siebel Newsom disclosed through her attorney that she was one of five “Jane Doe” witnesses who would testify against Weinstein. It is customary not to reveal accusers’ names or identities unless they come forward voluntarily.

“Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein at a purported business meeting that turned out to be a trap,” Siebel Newsom’s attorney, Benjamin Fegan, said in a statement to the media via ABC 7. “She intends to testify at his trial in order to seek some measure of justice for survivors, and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women. Please respect her choice to not discuss this matter outside of the courtroom.”

A message sent to Gov. Newsom’s press office Monday was not immediately returned.

On Monday, Weinstein attorney Mark Werksman brought up “Jane Doe 4,” now known to be Siebel Newsom, suggesting he wants to tell the jury about how she “continued to have a relationship with Weinstein” years after she said she was raped in 2004 or 2005, according to a pool report generated by the Associated Press.

With Judge Lisa B. Lench calling balls and strikes Monday, Werksman read one of Siebel Newsom’s emails: “Harvey, regarding the press thing, I was calling because I wanted some advice” about a San Francisco Independent article that “says something she didn’t say.” Werksman said the 2007 article had revealed an affair that Gavin Newsom had with a married campaign aide before he began dating Siebel.

“Of all things you’d think a woman that is raped by Harvey Weinstein wouldn’t do,” Werksman said, “it’s [ask him] how to deal with a sex scandal. … The fact that she comes to Mr. Weinstein for that advice indicates the friendship and companionship of Jane Doe 4 and Mr. Weinstein. The defense will be that they had an affair, that they had consensual sex.”

Immediately following the article’s publication, Newsom admitted to a 2005 affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, wife of his then-campaign manager and close friend Alex Tourk, when she was Newsom’s appointments secretary. Newsom began dating Siebel in September 2006, and they were married in 2008.

Werksman argued that the relationship, the emails – the entire story – was relevant for the jury to hear in Weinstein’s rape case.

“Very dramatic Mr. Werksman,” the judge said.

“Forgive the melodrama, Your Honor,” he replied.

Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez countered by saying she’s “not sure how Mr. Werksman knows” how a rape victim might behave toward their attacker: “They do not react in a matter how someone who has not been raped would think,” she argued.

Martinez said she did not object to defense attorneys asking about ongoing friendly correspondence between Weinstein and Siebel Newsom – but that she believes the “subject matter,” including “anything political,” should not be allowed at trial. (She had no objection later when it was suggested that Siebel Newsom solicited political donations for her husband from Weinstein.)

Werksman complained that striking the contents of their conversations would “whitewash” the testimony, which he believes would undermine the prosecution’s theory of a power imbalance: “We can’t leave the jury the impression that this was about some humdrum entertainment industry stuff,” he said.

But on this Monday, the judge wasn’t having it:

“I’m not going to allow it, Mr. Werksman,” Lench said. “If you want to ask him whether she sought his advice over a situation with the press, that’s fine” … but the contents are “too tangential in relation to this trial.”

Included in her ruling: any mention of Gavin Newsom himself. Werksman asked whether he could bring up Jane Doe 4’s “boyfriend the mayor.” Lench ruled that he can say the emails were “about a personal matter,” but not name Newsom specifically.

Court was set to resume Tuesday with continuing jury selection. As of Monday, the pool had been narrowed down to 148 potential panelists. Weinstein 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.