Jennifer Siebel Newsom, filmmaker and the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, took the stand in Harvey Weinstein’s second sexual assault trial in Los Angeles on Monday.
Weinstein, who was first charged with rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles in 2020, was facing 11 counts of sexual assault stemming from allegations by five women between 2004 and 2013.
However, on Tuesday, prosecutors told the judge that they do not intend to proceed with the counts of Jane Doe #5, so counts 8 through 11 have now been dropped. Nonetheless, Weinstein is still facing two counts of rape and five counts of sexual assault.
The former movie mogul is already serving a 23-year sentence after being found guilty of rape and sexual assault in New York in 2020. If convicted in Los Angeles, Weinstein faces another life sentence.
Throughout both criminal cases in New York and Los Angeles, Weinstein, 70, has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty.
Last month, BuzzFeed News confirmed through her attorney that Siebel Newsom was Jane Doe #4 and was accusing the former movie mogul of forcible oral copulation and forcible rape related to an incident that occurred in 2005.
Siebel Newsom, 48, first spoke of her experience with Weinstein in an op-ed published by HuffPost in 2017, just one day after the New York Times first reported allegations of sexual misconduct against the former producer.
“I can tell you that I believe every single word that was written in the extremely disturbing, but not all that shocking, New York Times piece published yesterday,” Siebel Newsom wrote. “Not all that shocking because very similar things happened to me.”
“I was naive, new to the industry, and didn’t know how to deal with his aggressive advances ― work invitations with a friend late-night at The Toronto Film Festival, and later an invitation to meet with him about a role in The Peninsula Hotel, where staff were present, and then all of a sudden disappeared like clockwork, leaving me alone with this extremely powerful and intimidating Hollywood legend,” she added.
On Monday, Siebel Newsom, who is the fourth accuser to testify in this trial, began her testimony by telling the court that she was a “little nervous” and then quickly became emotional after taking the stand, according to a pool report. “I’m sorry. I just need to take a deep breath,” she said.
When asked by prosecutor Marlene Martinez if she could identify Weinstein in the courtroom on Monday, Siebel Newsom broke into tears and said, “yes.”
“He’s wearing a suit and a blue tie, and he’s staring at me,” she said.
Siebel Newsom told the court that when she first met Weinstein in 2005, she was a working actor, having received small roles in TV shows and films, and she was not yet dating Newsom, whom she married in 2008.
Weinstein "was like the kingmaker," Siebel Newsom told the jury on Monday. "He was the top of the industry."
She then recounted the moment she met the former movie mogul at a hotel gathering with some industry friends during the film festival. “Something kind of happened, and there was this big person coming towards me, and it felt like everybody sort of backed away,” she said. “Harvey Weinstein introduced himself to me.”
“It felt like the Red Sea was parting. I don’t know if it was deference or fear,” she said.
When she got to the hotel room door, Siebel Newsom recalls an assistant opening the door and inviting her in. She went in and sat down where she was asked to, she said.
"I was nervous I was kind of uncomfortable, but I just tried to not, I just tried to be present, and I just waited," she said. "Why?" asked the prosecution. "Because you don’t say no to Harvey Weinstein," Siebel Newsom responded. “He could make or ruin your career."
When Weinstein arrived, he came sat next to Siebel Newsom on the couch, she said. They spoke for a few minutes, but he seemed "anxious and harried," she explained to the jury.
“He abruptly got up and said I’m going to go get more comfortable," Siebel Newsom said, explaining that he then went down the hall in his suite and called to her. "Can you help me?" she said he asked her.
After walking to where he was, which was his bathroom, Siebel Newsom told the jury, while crying, that he was touching himself. "He grabbed me, and he tried to get me to touch him," she said, claiming that he then touched her breast and arm but she backed away.
"I was scared," she said. "This was not why I came here. It was like a complete manipulation of why I was there. And I just remembered physically trying to back away.”
She continued, "I was like, 'Please don’t, please don’t, it’s OK,' I remember getting kind of rattled, I was just like, 'Please don't.'"
In order to leave the bathroom, Siebel Newsom said that she would have had to go past him and that he was "pretty big."
“I was trying to just be gracious and not be angry, I was just delicately trying to move away from him," she said. “At some point, he softened, like he was trying a different approach because I was shaking. So he sort of grabbed me and pulled me toward the couch."
Weinstein then began asserting himself, she said, adding that he told her that "this was the industry."
"Then what happened?" the prosecution asked. "I was exhausted like I am right now...I don’t know that moment in between, but there was, I was so exhausted. There was just mental jujitsu in trying to defend myself," Siebel Newsom told the court.
“He, like, lifted me, and I don’t remember if he carried me or dragged me. I distinctly remember standing by the bed," she said, adding that she was still shaking.
“He starts groping my breasts and touches himself. I’m standing, I’m resisting, against the bed. And he’s touching my breasts and touching himself," she told the court on Monday while crying heavily. "Horror. Horror. I’m trembling, I’m like a rock, I’m frigid. This is my worst nightmare."
Siebel Newsom then told the court how Weinstein forcibly put his fingers in her vagina and then "he put part of his penis inside of me...he pushes me back against the bed. And I’m so scared."
She continued, "It’s not staying in because his penis is so weird and messed up. He realizes this. I was just worried I was going to get some disease, it was so gross. He was just so big and so determined he was like so aggressive, this is not, this was hell...And then he pushes me around, and he pulls my dress up, and I was on the bed, and he puts his tongue in my vagina."
“I’m crying, I’m trembling, I’m shaking, and I’m frozen too. I’m frozen I don’t know what to do," Siebel Newsom recalled. “And then he tries to climb up and stick his penis in me again. He’s kind of at an angle. I found the strength to just like move over to the side. And then I just, because I couldn’t have him in me anymore. So I used my hand on his penis … to try to make him stop.”
Siebel Newsom said that she recalled him ejaculating, and then there was silence.
"I just remember not having words. I just wanted to get the fuck out of there," she told the court while crying. “I got down, and I said, 'I have to go.' I grabbed my underwear, I still had my dress on. I put my underwear on, and I left," she said.
Weinstein called her the next day.
“He was just like, how are you? Seeing if you got home OK, maybe I can help you with some role or something," she said.
“I was cold … I wasn’t expecting anything. I didn’t want anything from him. I was like, ‘I don’t want to give you anything’ because I felt like he had just taken a part of me," Siebel Newsom said and explained that she did, in fact, end up sending an audition tape a week or so later to a casting director for a film.
“I felt tremendous shame and basically was still processing this all. He had taken a piece of me," she said. “I was just playing the game. I was just pretending like nothing happened and putting that in a box over here and moving on with my career.”
When asked by the prosecutors whether she interacted with Weinstein again, she explained that there have been a few industry events where she has bumped into him since the incident and that the interactions were uncomfortable for her.
During her testimony, Siebel Newsom confirmed that since the alleged incident in 2005, she has never been alone with Weinstein.
The prosecution then showed emails that Siebel Newsom sent to Weinstein and his office in the years afterward and asked her why she continued to interact with him.
"So I had a career, and as I mentioned earlier, I tried to put what happened into a box even though it came out at times," she said. "My sadness and my fear changed at times into anger. But in this case, I felt like what had happened was a one-off thing because he was in a relationship. I felt like I was safe."
In one of the emails, Siebel Newsom asked Weinstein for advice on dealing with the media. “I believed that Harvey Weinstein had relationships with the press and understood how to handle the press and thought he could be helpful," she told the court on Monday.
Moreover, during her testimony, she admitted to asking Weinstein for donations as he was affiliated with the Democratic party at the time and her husband, Gavin Newsom, was running for office.
During the cross-examination, Weinstein's attorney, Mark Werksman, asked about her continued contact with Weinstein and the fact that she had asked him for a campaign donation.
“I wanted to be helpful to my husband," she said, adding that Newsom returned the money as soon as he became aware of the alleged assault.
Werksman also asked Siebel Newsom when she told her husband that she had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
"I dropped hints along the way. He knew something was off when we were at the SAG Awards and the way Harvey looked at me," she said, adding that it was "complex."
Siebel Newsom returned to the stand on Tuesday for more cross-examination.
On Tuesday morning, Werksman returned to the issue of her previous testimonies and whether they were the same as the one she gave on Monday.
Siebel Newsom told the court that when she first came forward about Weinstein and spoke to the detectives, she did it "initially to support other women, not to be up here on the witness stand."
"I honestly was just telling my truth, and I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be," she said.
Werksman draws attention to the fact that Siebel Newsom said that during the assault, she faked an orgasm in order to expedite Weinstein's experience so she could "get out of there."
“Do you understand the paradox of trying to stop a rapist by faking an orgasm?" Werksman asked.
“It was at the very end after I’d already been assaulted. And I left right after," Siebel Newsom responded.
Werksman also brought up emails Siebel Newsom had sent Weinstein months after the alleged incident, in which she allegedly asked to meet up with him and said she was looking forward to running into Weinstein.
“You could never tell from the tone or tenor of this email that this man had done despicable things to you," Werksman said.“You’re actually welcoming his company."
“I was just surviving,” Siebel Newsom said, adding that she was just “doing the business thing.”
Last month, during the opening statements, Werksman had described Siebel Newsom as "just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead."
The Los Angeles trial is expected to take around two months, having begun jury selection on Oct. 10. Weinstein is also currently appealing the New York conviction from 2020, with his attorneys arguing the judge and a juror were biased against him.