NEW YORK - A key accuser in the the New York City rape trial of Harvey Weinstein is set to face a potentially grueling cross-examination about why she maintained a relationship with him despite her allegations that the once-powerful movie mogul sexually assaulted her.
The 34-year-old woman, who will return to the witness stand Monday, told jurors last week that Weinstein trapped her in a New York hotel room in March 2013, and angrily ordered her to undress as he loomed over her, and then raped her.
Still, she kept in touch, sending him flattering emails, because “his ego was so fragile,” she said, and it “made me feel safe, worshipping him in this sense. … I wanted to be perceived as innocent and naive.”
A second attack came eight months later at a Los Angeles hotel, where she worked as a hairdresser, after she told Weinstein that she was dating an actor, she said.
“You owe me one more time!” she said he screamed at her. She said she begged him not to take off her clothes, but he said, “I don’t have time for games,” and ripped off her pants before pushing her legs apart and raping her.
The testimony comes at a pivotal moment in the trial of Weinstein, whose downfall energized the #MeToo movement. He is charged in New York with the 2013 rape and also 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.
Weinstein, 67, has insisted that any sexual encounters were consensual. His lawyers aim to raise doubts about the rape accuser's credibility by seizing on her complicated history with the former film producer.
The alleged rape victim caused a stir Friday when, asked by a prosecutor to describe Weinstein’s body, she said that when she first saw him naked, she noticed “extreme scarring” on his stomach and thought he had characteristics of both male and female genitalia.
"When I first saw him, I was filled with compassion, absolute compassion," she said, adding, "It seemed his anger came from a place of pain."
The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of alleged sexual assault victims without their consent, unless they go public with the allegations like Haleyi has done. The AP is withholding the name of the 34-year-old woman because it isn’t clear if she wishes to be identified publicly.