Weinstein accuser who broke down on stand faces third day of cross-examination


NEW YORK (Reuters) – A woman who says Harvey Weinstein raped her returned to the stand for cross-examination by the former Hollywood producer’s lawyer on Tuesday, after the previous day was cut short when she broke down in sobs on the witness stand.

Jessica Mann, 34, began weeping uncontrollably during Weinstein’s rape trial in Manhattan on Monday as she read aloud an email she wrote in 2014 describing Weinstein as a “pseudo father.”

The trial is widely seen as a milestone in the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media, and politics of sexual misconduct.

Mann had testified on Friday that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in March 2013, early in what she described as an “extremely degrading” relationship with him. She said the relationship continued in some form for years after that.

The 67-year-old former producer has pleaded not guilty to raping Mann and to sexually assaulting another woman, Mimi Haleyi. He faces life in prison if found guilty of predatory sexual assault, the most serious charge.

Before Mann returned for cross-examination on Tuesday, prosecutors called actress Emanuela Postacchini.

Mann had testified that Weinstein once pressured her to engage in a sexual act with Postacchini in front of him, although the women did not go through with it.

Postacchini corroborated that story, telling jurors that Weinstein took her to a suite in the Montage Hotel in Los Angeles with Mann and “told us to do something,” though when pressed she said she could not remember specifics. She said Mann left the bedroom and Postacchini shortly thereafter found her crying “in a fetal position on the ground” in the bathroom.

Postacchini said under questioning by Weinstein’s lawyer that she had multiple sexual encounters with Weinstein and that they were not forced, but that she felt manipulated into situations.

Weinstein has not been charged with any crime in connection with the Montage Hotel incident, and the women did not say it was nonconsensual.

Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Weinstein, whose films included “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied the allegations and has said any sexual encounters were consensual.

In the course of her cross-examination, which began on Friday, Weinstein’s lawyer Rotunno repeatedly suggested that Mann willingly had sex with Weinstein to advance her career. At one point she asked whether Mann “manipulated” Weinstein when she sent him friendly messages and asked to see him, even though she was not attracted to him.

“How I handled it to survive and process it, yeah, I guess you could say manipulation,” Mann answered.

Rotunno also confronted Mann with affectionate emails she sent Weinstein after the alleged rape. Mann said she sent Weinstein flattering messages to avoid making him angry and show she was “not a threat.”

Jurors have already heard testimony from Haleyi and three other women who said Weinstein assaulted them.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis