Speaking publicly for the first time, aspiring actress and hairdresser Jessica Mann testified on Friday that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in hotel rooms in Los Angeles and New York City in 2013 — and that she found a syringe used for a penile injection after one of the encounters.
In graphic testimony that left her sobbing in the New York courtroom, the key prosecution witness described her “manipulative” encounters with the former Hollywood mogul and how she “faked an orgasm” after she said he orally sexually assaulted her in an L.A. hotel room in order to end the experience as quickly as possible. Her accusations represent at least two of the five felony counts that Weinstein faces; he has pleaded not guilty.
Mann, who grew up on a dairy farm in Washington, said she first met Weinstein at a party in the Hollywood Hills in late 2012 or early 2013. Having just moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, Mann described her naïveté in not initially knowing who the then-mogul was. Mann said Weinstein expressed an interest in helping her career and, later, took her to a bookstore to buy her reading material about the history of Hollywood and invited her to a dinner meeting with Barbara Schneeweiss, then a producer at The Weinstein Company.
“When I met Harvey, I’d given up a lot to be in Hollywood, and even it was a big fight between me and my dad,” Mann said. “With my religious background, I thought God was blessing me for having met him, for committing to myself.”
That same year, Mann said she was invited to meet with Weinstein at L.A.’s Peninsula Hotel, where she said he began asking her increasingly personal and private questions, like how much money her parents made and whether she had a good relationship with them. At one point, after Weinstein became upset when a stranger approached their table to praise Weinstein for his work, Mann said Weinstein moved the conversation up to a hotel suite.
“I didn’t want to go up there, but I also felt like I was helping him get away from all this public attention that was clearly distressing him,” she said. But once they got inside the room, Mann testified that Weinstein asked her to take off her shirt so he could give her a massage. When she declined, Mann said Weinstein took off his own shirt and asked her to give him a massage instead.
“He made me feel stupid, like why did I think it was such a big deal,” Mann said of Weinstein’s “manipulative” behavior.
After she said she “awkwardly” rubbed lotion into what she described as Weinstein’s blackhead-filled back, she said she expressed to him that she was not “sexual” or “comfortable with something like this” with people she didn’t know.
After the massage incident, Mann said she received invitations from Weinstein to attend parties and other industry-related events. It was after one of these events that Mann said she and a friend — who was also pursuing an acting career — were invited by Weinstein to meet up at the Montage hotel in L.A. to talk about acting.
“He told us, ‘You guys are perfect for this film I’m producing. It’s a vampire film, and you would both make perfect leads,'” Mann testified. But when they were invited to go up to his suite to receive the scripts, Mann said she demurred, remembering the last time she was invited to his hotel room.
“I laughed. I said, ‘Oh no, I know what that means,'” Mann said. But Weinstein laughed at her, Mann testified, and said he was a “harmless old man.”
After being cajoled into going up to his room, Mann said Weinstein told her friend to wait in the living area of the suite and called Mann into his bedroom. When she appeared at the doorframe, she said that he pulled her in, shut the door, and orally sexually assaulted her without her consent.
“The more I fought, the angrier he got,” Mann said, remembering that she “locked up” and grew very quiet. Then, she said she “faked an orgasm to get out of it.” When Weinstein was finished performing oral sex on her, Mann said, he asked her how it was and, being nervous, she told him, “Oh, it was the best I ever had.'”
Mann said that after the assault she made the decision to be in a relationship with Weinstein, in part, because she had only been sexual with “very few people.”
“I entered what I thought would be an agreeable relationship with him, and it was extremely degrading from that point on,” Mann said.
Mann testified that Weinstein would say things like, “Do you like my big fat Jewish d-ck?” to her and, one time, peed on her. She also said the first time she saw Weinstein fully naked, she said she thought he was “deformed” because he had “extreme scarring” and did not have any testicles. (Weinstein, watching Mann testify, quickly put his head in his hands and started shaking his head.)
At the Doubletree Hotel in New York around St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, Mann said she and two of her friends — also in the entertainment industry — had a breakfast meeting with Weinstein, but that the then-mogul arrived at the hotel much earlier than expected. Though she said she tried to stall for as long as she could, since her friends were not at the hotel yet, she eventually went down to the lobby and, to her surprise, saw Weinstein checking into the hotel.
Mann said she went up to the hotel counter to confront him and try to persuade the hotel staff not to check him into a room, but she testified that Weinstein pulled her aside, angrily, and told her “not to embarrass him.”
After Weinstein successfully checked into a room, Mann said Weinstein put his arm on her and took her up to the room. “I thought, ‘Well, at least if up there is private, I can yell at him,'” Mann said. The two then began having an argument in the room, Mann said, and she tried to leave the room twice but Weinstein blocked her both times. Soon, Mann said Weinstein commanded her to undress and grabbed her hands to force her to do so.
“I gave up at that point, and I undressed and he stood over me until I was completely naked, and then he told me to lay on the bed. And once I was naked and laying on the bed, he walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind him,” Mann said. “He came out, naked, and he got on top of me and that’s when he put himself inside of me, his penis inside of me.”
When he was finished, Mann said she ran into the bathroom to try to compose herself. It was then that she saw a needle inside the bathroom trash. Later, she said she Googled the name and found out it was a penile injection.
When she and Weinstein went back downstairs in the hotel, Mann said she didn’t tell her two friends. “I was so embarrassed,” Mann said. “It’s a very personal thing to have happen to you.”
At a certain point, Mann — who was then working as a hairdresser at the Peninsula Hotel in L.A. — said she began seriously dating another person and wanted to tell Weinstein so that their sexual encounters would end. While she was giving Weinstein a haircut in a hotel room, she told him about her new partner — but she said his eyes turned black and things became violent when he found out the new boyfriend was an actor.
“He was screaming, ‘You owe me one more time,’ as he was dragging me into the bedroom,” Mann said through tears. “He sort of threw me down onto the bed and he was demanding that I take off my clothes, and I was begging him, … ‘Please, no.'”
“He said, ‘I don’t have time for games,’ and he lunged at me with both hands,” Mann continued. “He ripped my pants so hard and so fast off of me that I had three scratches down each leg from the top of my thigh to right above my knee.”
After she curled up into a ball and “froze,” Mann said Weinstein raped her and then ejaculated in her mouth.
Mann said she still continued friendly, emailed communications with Weinstein after the incident because she didn’t want to further anger him.
Mann’s account, along with the former production assistant Miriam Haley’s, make up the basis of the five felony counts against Weinstein, which include predatory sexual assault and first- and third-degree rape. He has pleaded not guilty. During the defense’s cross-examination, Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno pressed Mann on whether she was trying to take advantage of Weinstein’s power in the industry to further her acting career. Her cross-examination will resume next Monday.