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Cross-examination drives key Weinstein accuser to tears

Harvey Weinstein has insisted that any sexual encounters were consensual.

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Harvey Weinstein arrives at court (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Harvey Weinstein arrives at court (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Harvey Weinstein arrives at court (Mark Lennihan/AP)

A key accuser in the the rape trial of Harvey Weinstein broke down in tears in the witness box during an exhaustive cross-examination over the nature of her relationship with the once-powerful movie mogul.

The drama, which prompted the judge to send the jury home about an hour earlier than usual, came after the defence sought to paint the 34-year-old woman as an opportunistic manipulator who took advantage of Weinstein while pursuing an acting career, even after he allegedly raped her.

The woman said she “tried to make him my pseudo father” after a rough upbringing.

“I wanted him to believe I wasn’t a threat,” the woman told the court. She added: “I was afraid of his unpredictable anger.”

Defence lawyer Donna Rotunno also grilled the woman about consensual sex with Weinstein that the accuser claimed only happened after “a long negotiation”. Even then, “I wasn’t happy to do it”, she said.

Donna Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer
Donna Rotunno (Mark Lennihan/AP)

“You manipulated Mr Weinstein every single time, isn’t that correct?” Ms Rotunno asked.

The woman responded: “I felt there was an aspect to the way I felt I needed to protect myself that had an element of manipulation.”

Ms Rotunno said: “You made a choice to have sexual encounters with Harvey Weinstein when you weren’t sexually attracted to him. You liked the parties and you liked the power.”

The lawyer also grilled the accuser about communications that provided him with her new phone number and encouraged him to get in touch.

One read: “I got a new number. Just wanted you to have it. Hope you are well and call me anytime, always good to hear your voice,” according to court papers.

At times during the cross-examination, the woman struggled to recall certain details and at one point asked for a break, saying: “I’m getting a little foggy.”

She returned to the stand after she told jurors last week that Weinstein trapped her in a New York hotel room in March 2013, and angrily ordered her to undress as he loomed over her, and then raped her.

A second attack came eight months later at a Los Angeles hotel, where she worked as a hairdresser, after she told Weinstein she was dating an actor, she said.

“You owe me one more time!” she said he screamed at her. She said she begged him not to take off her clothes, but he said: “I don’t have time for games,” and ripped off her trousers before pushing her legs apart and raping her.

Mimi Haleyi
Mimi Haleyi (Seth Wenig/AP)

The evidence comes at a pivotal moment in the trial of Weinstein, whose downfall energised the MeToo movement. He is charged in New York with the 2013 rape and also sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi, a former Project Runway production assistant, in 2006.

A conviction could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Weinstein, 67, has insisted any sexual encounters were consensual.

PA Media