A woman who accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in 2013 testified on Tuesday that the attack left her wanting to “destroy” herself.
The woman, model and actress living and working in Rome who was in Los Angeles at the time for a film festival, is the first of eight Weinstein accusers who are due to testify in a Los Angeles courtroom where the mogul 70-year-old filmmaker is on trial on multiple counts of rape and sexual assault.
Most of the women said their assaults began with what were believed to be business meetings with Weinstein at hotels. However, the woman who testified on Tuesday said she was stunned to find Weinstein knocking on her door late one night in February 2013 after meeting him briefly earlier that evening at the Los Angeles Italia film festival.
Staying at the hotel under an alias, she said she had no idea how Weinstein even knew his room number and initially let him walk through her door without thinking that there was trouble with that. That quickly changed when Weinstein became sexually aggressive, she said.
The woman, whose first language is Russian, said her English was very poor at the time, although it has since improved considerably, and thought she may have communicated poorly.
“I felt guilty that I did something or said something that made him think something might be going on between us,” she said.
She said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on his hotel bed. “I was a little hysterical through the tears,” she said. “I kept saying ‘no, no no’.”
She said she physically feared Weinstein, who was outweighing her by 100 pounds or more. She said she considered running, hitting or biting him. Prosecutor Paul Thompson asked why she didn’t.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I regret it a lot.”
She said the moment Weinstein took her to the bathroom to rape her, she stopped resisting physically, although she still objected verbally.
“I froze, like my body wasn’t listening,” she said.
She said the day after the alleged attack she started drinking heavily.
“I was destroying myself,” she said. “I felt very guilty. Especially because I opened that door.
She said she found it difficult to cope with her children after the incident and felt the need to confess to her Russian Orthodox priest. Prosecutors asked the priest to testify, but he refused, citing religious privilege. The woman’s daughter, now 21, is due to testify later.
The woman cried occasionally during her testimony, but remained mostly calm, looking down when she became emotional to pull herself together.
Monday, the day of the opening of the trial, she was sobbing so much in her account of the attack, the hearing was adjourned a few minutes earlier.
“I want to apologize for my breakdown yesterday,” she said when she returned to the helm on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, I can’t control this.”
The defense was expected to cross-examine the woman later on Tuesday or Wednesday.
In his opening statement, Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, said many of the counts his client faces were actually consensual sex that his accusers reframed after Weinstein became a lightning rod for the #MeToo movement in 2017.
But in the case of the woman testifying Tuesday, Werksman denied that the events in her hotel room happened.
The woman’s name is not revealed in court and is referred to as “Jane Doe 1”.
Weinstein’s trial began this week, where he faces numerous charges of rape and sexual assault. The disgraced film producer, 70, is already serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of sex crimes in New York in February 2020.
The Associated Press contributed reporting