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Weinstein accuser Jessica Mann says she still considered him a 'friend' after alleged rape

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/4/2020 Patrick Ryan and Maria Puente, USA TODAY

Warning: This story includes graphic language of a sexual nature.

NEW YORK – After two days of intense cross-examination and emotional testimony from accuser Jessica Mann in the Harvey Weinstein sex-crimes trial, she returned to the stand Tuesday to face more questioning about why she didn't tell her boyfriend about an alleged rape and why she continued to consider the movie mogul a "friend."

a close up of a man: Jessica Mann (C) exits the courthouse after testifying against Harvey Weinstein at his sex-crimes trial on Feb. 3, 2020 in New York City. © Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, Getty Images Jessica Mann (C) exits the courthouse after testifying against Harvey Weinstein at his sex-crimes trial on Feb. 3, 2020 in New York City.

Why, she was asked, did she not tell her boyfriend, whom she has identified as "Eddie," about what she says happened to her in a New York hotel room in 2013? Weinstein is charged with raping her in that hotel room. 

"Jessica, you had multiple chances here to tell Eddie that Harvey was a bad guy. Why didn’t you?" asked defense lawyer Donna Rotunno.

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"I couldn’t talk to Eddie." 

"He was your boyfriend," Rotunno said. "It wasn’t a healthy relationship, partly because he didn’t approve of your relationship with Harvey?"

"He felt I was stupid."

At one point, Mann began crying as Rotunno asked about multiple emails exchanged between Mann and Weinstein for years after the alleged rape, in which they both wrote friendly, even loving things.

"I know about the emails with Harvey, and that’s why I’m still here. I know it’s complicated and difficult, but that doesn’t change the fact that he raped me," Mann said. "I’m not looking for an excuse. ... I own my behavior." 

Rotunno also asked her about emails she sent to an online self-help platform called Relationship Reinvented, in which Mann described having drinks or dinner with Weinstein and having a friendly relationship with him after their New York encounter. 

"The friendship we had makes me want to catch up with him and see what’s going on,” she wrote in one message.

In another message she describes going to dinner with him. "I’m glad I did, because I talked to him about all I was going through. … He gave me good advice. … He has always extended his hand to help,” the message said.

Harvey Weinstein wearing a suit and tie: Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for his sex-crimes trial in New York, Feb. 4, 2020. © Richard Drew, AP Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for his sex-crimes trial in New York, Feb. 4, 2020.

"You didn’t tell Relationship Reinvented that Harvey Weinstein raped you in a New York hotel?" Rotunno asked.

"I was vague … the only answer I gave them about sexual assault was 'in my community,' " meaning Hollywood at the time, she said.   

"After breakups, the person who you decided to reach out to was the person you say sexually assaulted you?" Rotunno asked.

"Yes."  

In February 2015, two years after the alleged rape, she asked Weinstein for a referral for membership to Soho House, the members-only club and hotel . Weinstein responded, "Of course."

"You want the gentlemen and ladies of this jury to know that the man you asked to sponsor you was your rapist?" Rotunno asked.

"I do want the jury to know he is my rapist, and I want to continue to explain the dynamic," Mann responded.

In a February 2017 email exchange, which was already made public before the trial by his then lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, Mann told Weinstein, "I love you, I always do, but I hate feeling like a booty call.”

On the stand, Mann testified he "yelled" back at her about this message in all capital letters. But Rotunno showed the jury a copy of his return message, which showed he actually typed in lowercase: “I know you were joking in your last note, but some people don’t think it’s a joke.” 

"Yes, I was joking," she answered back. "I know hollywood loves to harass you, unfortunately, and the stand-up comedian in me was just teasing you.”

The year before, in April 2016 she arranged to meet him at a Beverly Hills hotel, telling him, "Your input is always a blessing in my life.” In return, he gave her his hotel room number. Four hours later, she emailed: "I feel so fabulous and beautiful. Thank you for everything!” 

(The mention of Beverly Hills hotels, in particular the Montage Beverly Hills, the site of encounters between Mann and Weinstein, led to the calling later Tuesday of witness James Bermingham, one of the hotel company's executives, who confirmed that Weinstein's check-in alias was "Max Postel," according to his guest profile. Max was his father's name and Postel was his mother's maiden name, the court was told. It was not clear why this was relevant to the New York case and it was not explained.) 

Rotunno also brought up recordings Mann made in April 2014, one with a "psychic" in which she talked about her strained relationship with her boyfriend but described Weinstein as a friend. In another "lighthearted" recording of a conversation, she said she never let Weinstein "cross boundaries." She acknowledged she lied to the psychic.

In a recording with a "life coach" from Relationship Reinvented in July 2014, she described Weinstein as someone who will "take care of me" in terms of her career. 

Mann left the stand for the day just before 3.30 p.m.

Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors called a new witness out of order so that she could make her flight to Los Angeles for an audition. 

Emanuela Postacchini, an Italian actress, took the stand as a witness to back up earlier testimony by Mann about a failed threesome allegedly arranged by Weinstein at a Los Angeles hotel in 2013. 

Postacchini testified that some sort of sexual encounter was proposed, and that she felt "tricked" into going to the room. But she said neither she nor Mann were forced to do anything, and that Mann ran away crying, as she earlier testified.

a person posing for a picture: Emanuela Postacchini on Nov. 6, 2019 in Los Angeles. She testified as a witness at the Harvey Weinstein sex-crimes trial in New York on Feb. 4, 2020. © Jean Baptiste Lacroix, Getty Images Emanuela Postacchini on Nov. 6, 2019 in Los Angeles. She testified as a witness at the Harvey Weinstein sex-crimes trial in New York on Feb. 4, 2020.

"You didn’t see him force Ms. Mann to do anything?" asked defense lawyer Damon Cheronis. "No," she said.

Postacchini, who said her English wasn't as good then as it is now, said she went willingly to Weinstein's room at the hotel and was surprised to find Mann there. She testified he "was telling us to do something" together.

"I can’t recall exactly what he was telling us to do," she said. "Me interacting with a female." 

"Jessica left the room, ran away, crying. I ran after her. She was crying in fetal position on the ground, so I just tried to calm her down," Postacchini said. Did she leave the room after that? "I can’t remember."

Postacchini testified first thing Tuesday over objections from Weinstein's defense lawyers, who had not finished cross-examining Mann.

“It’s absolutely premature to be putting on a corroborating witness to Ms. Mann while she’s on the witness stand," said Cheronis, who called for a mistrial. "To break up key testimony in this case for a bolstering witness violates Mr. Weinstein’s right to a fair trial and cross-examination.”

Judge James Burke allowed Postacchini to testify, saying he understood the defense's point of view but Mann was supposed to have been finished with direct testimony and cross examination by Friday. Instead, she spent all day on the stand Monday.

“Judge, we believe auditions can be moved,” protested Rotunno. 

Mann collapsed in tears under questioning late Monday. On Tuesday, as Mann testified, she was calmer but her voice sometimes cracked and she seemed sullen and worn down.

Mann, 34, is a key accuser in the high-profile case: The embattled ex-producer is charged with raping her in a New York City hotel room in 2013, along with sexually assaulting another woman, Miriam "Mimi" Haleyi, in his apartment in 2006. 

During cross-examination, Rotunno grilled Mann about why she continued to send text and emails to the movie mogul years after the alleged attack, and accused her of "manipulating" Weinstein in order to get ahead in Hollywood.

In courtroom sketch, accuser Jessica Mann weeps as she testifies at the Harvey Weinstein sex-crimes trial, Jan. 31, 2020, in New York. © Elizabeth Williams via AP In courtroom sketch, accuser Jessica Mann weeps as she testifies at the Harvey Weinstein sex-crimes trial, Jan. 31, 2020, in New York.

Mann testified that she was merely trying to "protect" herself, and was scared of triggering his violent temper and hurting her career. 

The prosecution is expected to call more witnesses including Tarale Wulff, who alleges Weinstein raped her in his Manhattan apartment in 2005 and will be brought in for additional testimony.

Although she cannot press charges due to the statute of limitations in New York, prosecution hopes she can show a pattern of predatory behavior with Weinstein. 

Weinstein, 67, is charged with five sex crimes, including rape and assault. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex. 

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault and is seeking resources, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).


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