Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom testifies that Harvey Weinstein raped her


Los Angeles
CNN

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker and the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, took the stand in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial in Los Angeles on Monday, at times breaking into tears while alleging he raped her in a hotel room in 2005.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to multiple sexual assault charges, including four counts of rape, four counts of forced oral copulation, sexual penetration by force and sexual battery by restraint in incidents dating from 2004 to 2013.

Siebel Newsom was being cross-examined by the defense team when the judge halted proceedings for the day. She will resume her testimony Tuesday morning.

Earlier, Siebel Newsom, the fourth accuser to testify, said she was “a little nervous,” and grew emotional shortly after taking the stand.

Asked by prosecutor Marlene Martinez whether she could see Weinstein in court Monday, Siebel Newsom began to cry and said “yes” into the microphone in a shaky voice.

“He’s wearing a suit, and a blue tie and he’s staring at me,” she said.

She told the court she met the media mogul when she was 31 years old in 2005 while at a bar with other industry friends during the Toronto Film Festival. “There was this big person coming towards me and it felt like everybody sort of backed away,” she recalled, saying, “It felt like the Red Sea was parting.”

He then introduced himself to her and asked her to meet with him later to continue their talk because he had a meeting, she testified.

“I felt like I had to go meet with him … maybe he’ll give me good advice.. I thought that there was a genuine interest in talking to me about my work,” she said, adding that she and a friend met with Weinstein at a different hotel bar.

Weinstein “was really focused on telling me I was special,” Siebel Newsom told the court, adding Weinstein told her he wished he could stay and talk some more, but had to catch a flight to New York.

She said Weinstein then contacted her at the end of September 2005 when he was in Los Angeles, and she was living in the West Hollywood neighborhood. He dropped by a party she was having for five minutes and, according to Siebel Newsom, said: “I’ll be in touch, I’d like to have a meal with you or a drink or something and continue the conversation. We can talk about your film projects.”

He called and invited her to a hotel where an assistant told her the meeting would be in Weinstein’s suite, she testified. After she arrived, either Weinstein or an assistant told everyone in the room to leave, she told the court.

She described Weinstein as uninterested in hearing about her projects. “He abruptly got up and said I’m going to go get more comfortable,” she said.

According to her testimony, Weinstein was down a hallway, bent over while wearing a robe. “Can you help me?” she says he asked.

“Then I saw that he was touching himself, and he grabbed me,” she told the jury as she began to cry.

He was aggressive and she tried to back away, she said.

Weinstein softened his approach, she testified, but eventually he carried or dragged her to the bedroom and raped her.

When asked by a prosecutor why she remained in the hotel suite, she said, “Because you don’t say no to Harvey Weinstein.” He could make or ruin your career. I thought I was going to discuss my projects.”

Siebel Newsom said she didn’t tell anyone that night nor did she call the police about the incident.

“I was so violated and I don’t know how that happened,” she said through tears. “I didn’t see the clues and I didn’t know how to escape.”

Defense attorney Mark Werksman said in his opening statement October 24 that Siebel Newsom had consensual sex with Weinstein because she wanted his help getting roles and producing films.

He took particular aim at her, attacking her credibility using crude language.

“She’s made herself a prominent victim in the #MeToo movement…otherwise she’d be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood,” Werksman said.

On Monday, he spent some time focused on whether the governor – whom Siebel Newsom married in 2008 – knew of the alleged rape at the time he accepted a campaign contribution from Weinstein. Siebel Newsom said she asked the campaign staff to ask Weinstein for money but Newsom returned the funds “right away” in October 2017 after figuring out something happened.

“I told him that Harvey was sketchy at different times, and he picked up on it himself when he met him,” she testified.

Weinstein is charged with forcible oral copulation and forcible rape of Jane Doe 4 between September 1, 2004 and September 30, 2005, according to court documents. Jane Doe 4 has been identified as Siebel Newsom.

Siebel Newsom is a Stanford University graduate who has written, directed and produced several documentaries, including “Miss Representation,” “The Mask You Live In” and “The Great American Lie.” During her time as California’s first partner, Siebel Newsom has advocated for working mothers and launched initiatives focused on closing the gender pay gap, among other efforts.

The trial in California is his second such sexual assault case since reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017 revealed Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual abuse, harassment and secret settlements as he used his influence as a Hollywood power broker to take advantage of young women.

Weinstein was found guilty in 2020 in New York of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape and was sentenced to 23 years in prison. He has maintained his innocence, and New York’s highest court agreed in August to hear his appeal in the case.

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