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Los Angeles, Oct 27 (UiTV/IANS) – Harvey Weinstein’s genitalia and a social media photo of Al Pacino became key sticking points in the cross-examination of a Jane Doe in Weinstein’s rape trial.
After three days on the stand, the first woman to testify in Weinstein’s Los Angeles trial completed her testimony, which included a full day of gruelling questions from the already-convicted rapist’s attorney, who aimed to poke holes in her account of the night she says she was assaulted by the former Hollywood producer, reports Variety.
Jane Doe #1, who is a European actress and model, testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted and raped her in February 2013 in a hotel room when she was visiting as a VIP guest at the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival.
Through tears and sometimes uncontrollable deep breaths, the woman told the jury how Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him, groped her, pulled her hair, bent her over a sink and raped her, all after he had barged into her hotel room unannounced, reports Variety.
Weinstein’s defence attorney, Alan Jackson, focused on a few pieces of information when questioning Jane Doe #1: her time frame of events; her social media posts; whether there were any medical records, evidence or documentation surrounding the alleged incident; and Weinstein’s testicles.
Weinstein’s genitalia has emerged as a key factor during the trial; the topic is expected to repeatedly come up during testimony from various women.
Due to a surgery in 1999, Weinstein’s testicles are abnormal, his attorneys have explained. During opening statements, the prosecutor, deputy D.A. Paul Thompson, told the jury, “Because of an infection, his testicles were actually taken from his scrotum and put into his inner thighs.”
During Jane Doe #1’s testimony, she tearfully told the jury that when Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him, he demanded she “suck him and suck his balls.” Rehashing the graphic details, Jane Doe #1 told the jury: “He forced me to do what he asked I was crying, choking.”
When Jackson cross-examined Jane Doe #1, he questioned how she could have reported to the police that “his balls were in your mouth” – emphasising the plural word she used – if Weinstein does not have testicles.
“The reason that you changed your story is because you realised at some point that Mr Weinstein does not have testicles in his scrotum,” Jackson said to Jane Doe #1 on the stand. She disagreed with that statement and testified that she never changed her story, always telling detectives that Weinstein had abnormal genitalia. “I recall that he didn’t have one,” she said. “It was like empty skin.”
Weinstein’s attorney also asked why she would have let Weinstein into her hotel room in the first place when he unexpectedly showed up at her door, or why she wouldn’t have called down to the hotel front desk for help when he forced his way into her room.
“I was confused,” she said. “It wasn’t in my mind to call for help, I was fighting. I was being grabbed by him, I regret that I didn’t fight and stand up for myself.”
Jane Doe #1 continued her hotel stay in Los Angeles for a few more weeks in the same room where she alleged she was raped. She explained that she had to continue with her life as normal and that she was in L.A. for the film festival and other work obligations.
“You stayed in the very room where you say you were attacked and victimised?” Jackson asked.
Jackson also questioned Jane Doe #1’s social media activity. In the days immediately following the alleged rape, she posted numerous photos onto her Facebook and Instagram accounts, sharing images of herself smiling and socialising at parties, including a photo at the Italia festival with Al Pacino.
“I was trying to deny to myself that this happened to me,” she explained. “My public life is part of my job.”
Jackson asked why she would use the hashtag “amazing time” on a photo that was posted days after her traumatic rape. He also showed the jury a bathroom selfie that Jane Doe #1 posted from the hotel bathroom where the alleged assault occurred.
“You testified in graphic detail about the mental trauma,” Jackson said to her, then telling the judge he found it odd that she would take a photo in the bathroom where she claimed she was raped. “She posts a photo of herself in underwear. She is literally drawing attention to herself in that spot.”
Another social media post that became a focus of the cross-examination was a photo of Jane Doe #1 at a Golden Globes afterparty in 2017, hosted by Netflix and The Weinstein Company.
Jackson questioned why the woman would attend an event thrown by Weinstein’s own company, after she alleged she was brutally assaulted by him four years prior. Jane Doe #1 explained that she did not realise the party was affiliated with The Weinstein Company, since she was invited by her friends and PR team, who would encourage her to attend big industry events. She explained to the jury that she posts herself on her private accounts, but her PR manager would regularly post on her public account without her knowledge.
Jackson raised the issue of why there were no medical records to confirm whether the sexual assault occurred. Jane Doe #1 said that when she returned to Italy after the alleged 2013 incident, she visited a doctor twice for STD tests. Jackson questioned why she did not have any documentation from those medical visits.
Jackson also questioned why she didn’t have any evidence that could confirm whether she was assaulted, such as DNA samples, semen samples, a rape kit or photos. He suggested Jane Doe #1 was never even with Weinstein that night, since she claimed he left a jacket in her hotel room, but the hotel did not have any account of that item in lost-and-found.
“Do you have any physical items to corroborate you were ever with my client?” he asked. “Is there a single witness that can establish if you were ever in the same room at the same hotel?” He asked if she was bruised or had any markings on her body. She said no. “Do you think somebody after rape takes a video of themselves?” she shot back.
Jane Doe #1 had trouble nailing down the exact time frame of the alleged assault, which Jackson repeatedly asked her about through his cross-examination. She said that she returned to her hotel sometime after midnight and that Weinstein suddenly showed up knocking on her door roughly 20 minutes after.
She told the prosecutor that the night of the assault felt like the longest night of her life, but she had no clear sense of time.
Jackson asked if she recalled hearing a fire alarm go off in the hotel, to which she appeared to be confused. He said that a fire alarm loudly rang for four minutes in the hotel, which he found hard to believe she would not hear.
She said she never evacuated her room and could not remember hearing any fire alarm. Jackson then suggested that the entire incident could have never happened, prodding her in an animated tone: “You don’t remember the fire alarm because you weren’t in your room, right?”
When asked about the timing of her police report (Jane Doe #1 reported the assault in October 2017, roughly four-and-a-half years after the alleged incident), Jackson was keen to ask about her awareness of Weinstein’s public downfall.
“After the #MeToo movement, that’s when you reported?” he asked.
“The #MeToo movement targeted Mr Weinstein. Are you aware of that?”