A Mexican model and actress has denied standing by and doing nothing while Harvey Weinstein groped a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013.
“Never happened,” Claudia Salinas told jurors in the strongest defence evidence yet at the movie mogul’s rape trial in New York City.
Lauren Marie Young said Salinas closed the door behind her and Weinstein as they went into the bathroom, where she said he stripped off his clothes, grabbed her breast and masturbated.
Model Young said Salinas “was standing right there” when Weinstein was finished and she managed to get out.
“If I had done that, I would remember that,” Salinas told the trial. “I would never close the door on anybody.”
Salinas, now 38 and working as a social media influencer, gave evidence as the defence called witnesses for a third day after more than two weeks of prosecution. She said she met Weinstein in 2012 while she was an aspiring actress and never had a romantic relationship with him, adding that he had a “very strong personality” and “at times, he wasn’t nice to me”.
Among the prosecution witnesses were six women, including Young, who say the once-powerful Hollywood boss subjected them to vile sexual behaviour.
Weinstein is charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a different woman in 2006. Other accusers such as Young were called as witnesses as part of a prosecution effort to show he has used the same tactics to victimise women over many years.
Young’s allegations were included in criminal charges filed against Weinstein in California on January 6, just as his New York case was starting.
Weinstein, 67, has maintained any sexual encounters were consensual.
Salinas disputed other parts of Young’s account, saying that while they did meet at the hotel bar on the night of the alleged assault, it was not because Weinstein wanted to see her. She also said she did not recognise the hotel suite or remember following as Weinstein sought to continue the conversation in his room while he got ready for an awards presentation, as Young alleged.
Asked under cross-examination if she told investigators last year that it was possible Weinstein took Young to the room, Salinas replied: “What’s true is that I wasn’t there in a bathroom scenario. It could have happened but it didn’t mean I was there.”
Jurors also heard from a former roommate of the woman Weinstein is on trial for allegedly raping. Talita Maia said that the woman spoke highly of Weinstein and once called him her “spiritual soulmate”.
Maia, a Brazilian actress who lived with the woman in the Los Angeles area, was with her on the New York trip and said nothing seemed amiss when they met Weinstein for breakfast after the alleged rape.
The accuser told the court last week that she did not tell anybody what happened but was “pretty shut down” at breakfast.
“Did she seem like herself to you?” Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno asked.
“Yes,” Maia responded.
Maia said she was giving evidence in response to a defence subpoena, telling jurors: “I don’t want to be here at all.”
Under cross-examination, she said the two women fell out in 2016, but added: “I don’t hate her or anything like that.”
Maia said she and the woman met Weinstein at a Hollywood party a few months before the alleged rape and she believed the woman and Weinstein were in a relationship at some point and had stayed friends afterwards.
Maia said she initially did not know who Weinstein was, but once she found out he was a Hollywood big shot, she teased him by saying: “That’s why everybody is being so nice to you.”
She said the woman she was summoned to give evidence about put her arm around Weinstein and said: “No. It’s because he’s so cute.”