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Weinstein made 'unwelcome advances', accuser tells trial

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Key figure: Former actress Jessica Mann arrives for the trial of Harvey Weinstein. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Key figure: Former actress Jessica Mann arrives for the trial of Harvey Weinstein. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

Key figure: Former actress Jessica Mann arrives for the trial of Harvey Weinstein. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

A key accuser in Harvey Weinstein's rape trial yesterday testified that he made a series of unwelcome advances, once trying to kiss her as she tried to fight him off, then telling her she couldn't leave "until I do something for you".

That "something" turned out to be performing oral sex on her, Jessica Mann told jurors.

After she faked an orgasm "to get out of it", she said, Weinstein asked her whether she'd liked it.

"I was nervous so I told him, 'The best I ever had,'" she said, adding that she dashed out of the room as soon as she could.

The 34-year-old woman has accused Mr Weinstein of raping her in 2013, the most serious allegation in the case against the former Hollywood tycoon.

Her testimony, which began with earlier alleged encounters, marked a pivotal moment for both sides in the courtroom.

Prosecutors hoped to hammer home charges at the heart of the case. Mr Weinstein's lawyers planned to raise doubts about the accuser's credibility by seizing on her complicated history with the former film producer, including continued interactions and warm emails she sent him.

Mr Weinstein (67) denies any sexual encounters that weren't consensual.

He is charged with raping the woman who testified yesterday and with 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.

The woman testified she moved from Washington state to Los Angeles to pursue acting and met Mr Weinstein a party in late 2012 or early 2013. The producer offered to help with her acting aspirations, she said, asking her to meet him at a Sunset Boulevard bookstore to learn about movie history.

It was like being with "the guru of Hollywood", she said. "I thought it was a blessing."

Mr Weinstein was polite, though he "made grunting noises" when he looked at her, she said. After a dinner at a restaurant with Mr Weinstein and one of his assistants, he asked her to meet him at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles for what she thought was a professional meeting.

"It started out very normal," with him asking her questions about her family, until a stranger interrupted them and Mr Weinstein announced they would head upstairs, she told jurors. She said she didn't want to go but figured Mr Weinstein just wanted to avoid public attention, and she "didn't think anything bad was going to happen".

Inside his suite, he started to undress and offered to give her a massage, she said. When she refused, she said, he pressured her into giving him one on the bed with his shirt off, though she told him she was "not sexual or comfortable with this with someone I don't know".

The woman has not yet testified about the alleged rape in a New York hotel room in March 2013. Mr Weinstein's lawyers say the woman later sent him warm, even flirtatious, emails that said things like "miss you, big guy", and no one "understands me quite like you".

Not once did the woman accuse Mr Weinstein of harming her, his lawyers have said.

Irish Independent