Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner of California, burst into tears on the stand at a downtown courtroom on Monday when she was asked to identify the man charged with raping and sexually assaulting her in 2005: former Hollywood power player Harvey Weinstein.
Newsom, an award-winning documentary producer, and mother of four, is being referred to in court as “Jane Doe #4;” she has been publicly identified by her attorney. On Monday, at Weinstein’s ongoing and headline-grabbing sexual assault trial, she told the court that she met the mega-producer at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2005—this was during the height of Weinstein’s power, which he used to make or break the careers of actors.
Newsom responded affirmatively when asked if she could identify her attacker in court, becoming emotional before telling jurors, “He’s wearing a suit and a blue tie, and he’s staring at me.” She went on to testify that she was with a “bunch of peers, friends” during a gathering in Toronto when she noticed a “big person coming towards me” and felt like “everybody sort of backed away” as Weinstein introduced himself to her at what she recalled was a hotel.
“He was like the kingmaker. He was like the top of the industry,” she said while responding to Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez. “I was a working actress … I had little roles.”
Newsom said as Weinstein walked over to her from across the room, it “felt like the Red Sea was parting. I don’t know if it was deference or fear.” She felt a bit intimidated, she told the court, but explained that she’d thought that he was charming and that he initially treated her like he was “really curious” about her and her career.
After Monday’s lunch break, Newsom was due back on the stand for more questioning.
During the prosecution’s opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told jurors that “Jane Doe #4” is now married to California’s governor. He showed the panel a photo of the couple but said that at the time of her encounter with the movie mogul she was a “powerless actor trying to make her way in Hollywood.”
The prosecutor said in October that “Jane Doe #4” had reported that she was “crying and shaking” after Weinstein took her by the arm and pulled her onto a hotel room bed during an alleged attack in a hotel room at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills. The then-powerful mogul had invited her to the hotel “to discuss her career” after their meeting in Toronto. Instead of meeting her at the hotel’s restaurant, she was sent up to Weinstein’s suite.
“Relax, this is going to make you feel better,” Weinstein allegedly told her during the 2005 incident, according to the prosecutor.
One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Mark Werksman, countered that two of the alleged victims named in the charges “made it up” and that the encounters with Weinstein were “transactional sex” for the other two women. “You will see that these were all consensual sexual relations or, in some cases, they didn’t happen at all,” he told the jury. “Mr. Weinstein is an innocent man who is not guilty of the charges in this indictment.”
Werksman said, “Jane Doe #4” has been a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement. “Otherwise, she’d be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”
Weinstein, 70, was indicted on 11 charges—including forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by a foreign object, and sexual battery by restraint—involving five women.
Werksman told jurors that Weinstein’s accusers were “women who willingly played the game by the rules applied back then” and now “claim they were raped and sexually assaulted.”
“He’s not Brad Pitt or George Clooney. He’s not hot,” the lawyer explained to jurors. “They had sex with him because he was powerful…”
Weinstein was extradited to stand trial in L.A. from New York, where he was convicted of raping an aspiring actress and of a criminal sex act against a former production assistant. The state’s highest court has since agreed to hear his appeal involving that case. He remains behind bars.
City News Service contributed to this report