When Jane Doe #1 took the stand last week at Harvey Weinstein’s Los Angeles rape trial, she testified that she was compelled to report her assault when her teenage daughter convinced her to speak up.
Jane Doe #1 — who was the first witness to testify in the sprawling trial — alleged that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her in 2013 when she was visiting L.A. on a business trip for the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival. Jane Doe #1 is a European model and actor who was based in Italy at the time she claimed Weinstein assaulted her. During her testimony, she said Weinstein, who was essentially a stranger at the time of the 2013 incident, showed up to her hotel room unannounced, forced his way into her room and then sexually assaulted her. “He forced me to do what he asked,” she testified. “I was crying.”
During her emotional three-day testimony, Jane Doe #1 said that when she was back at the same film festival a few years later in 2017, she spotted Weinstein at an event. She had brought her then-teenage daughter to accompany her to L.A. to attend the festival, and her daughter noticed her mother’s demeanor suddenly change when Weinstein was around. Not knowing anything about her mother’s alleged assault, she didn’t put the pieces together, but later on, Jane Doe #1 told her daughter that she had been sexually assaulted in the past.
Another layer of the story is that Jane Doe #1’s daughter had also been sexually assaulted at school. When the daughter told her mother about what happened to her, Jane Doe #1 confessed that she had also been raped, so she could understand what her daughter was going through. The mother and daughter bonded over their shared trauma, and made a pact with each other that they would both report their separate incidents to the police.
Roughly one week after Jane Doe #1’s testimony, her daughter — who the court is identifying as “Maria C.” in order to protect her identity — was called on by the prosecution to corroborate her mother’s account.
“All of a sudden, during the conversation, my mom became very nervous, and I noticed that she started looking only in one direction of the room. After a few moments she kept saying ‘let’s go upstairs’ to where the dinner is. ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’” Maria testified, recalling the night her mother ran into Weinstein at the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival in 2017. She said she noticed that in the direction her mother was staring “there was this man sitting and staring right at my mom and I without taking his gaze off.” She confirmed that the man was Weinstein, and at the time, she had no idea who he was.
Maria shared that Weinstein approached the table she was sitting at with her mother at a festival dinner. “I again noticed my mom looking very very nervous, but this time it wasn’t wanting to leave. This time it was fear,” she said. “She froze, she froze right in the moment … And just looked into blank space.”
When asked by prosecutor, deputy D.A. Paul Thompson, why this moment stuck out in her mind, Maria said, “I recall this event particularly well because the same year at the beginning of fall I was told by my mom that she had been raped by this man.”
The conversation where Jane Doe told her daughter she’d been raped took place a few months after they had encountered Weinstein at the Italia festival in 2017. Maria said her mother did not disclose the identity of her alleged perpetrator to her daughter at first, but later on, she eventually told her daughter it was Weinstein.
“I was informed about who the man who raped her was at the beginning of the first few articles of the #MeToo movement,” Maria told the jury. She said when her mother revealed it was Weinstein, she Googled him and when she saw his photo online, she realized it was the man her mother spotted and appeared to be fearful of at the festival.
When Maria was cross-examined by Weinstein’s attorney, Alan Jackson, he prodded her timeline of events, questioning if she changed details from her initial interviews with detectives in the case in 2018, such as how long Weinstein had stared at her mother, how she knew Weinstein was staring at her mother and when her mother revealed Weinstein as her assailant. “Your story is changing,” Jackson said. “That’s not what you said in 2018.”
“My testimony is the truth,” Maria said on the stand. “I never changed my story.”
Jackson asked Maria about reporting her own sexual assault to the police in Sept. 2017 and questioned why her mother didn’t speak to authorities about her alleged rape at that same time when they were at the police station. (Maria had reported her incident before the #MeToo movement exploded with Weinstein’s exposés in Oct. 2017, but her mother did not report her incident until shortly after those articles came out.)
Getting teary, Maria said, “I had the courage to speak out only because my mom promised me” that she would go to the police about her alleged assault, which she eventually did in Oct. 2017, about four-and-half years after Weinstein allegedly raped her.
“It is safe to say that you are extremely close,” Jackson asked Maria about her relationship with her mother. “You love her very, very much?” Weinstein’s attorney asked.
“You would do anything for her?” Jackson asked Maria, who answered “yes,” before her testimony concluded.
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