Reporting five years ago on Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse spurred women to speak publicly about their own experiences with sexual violence in what became known as the #MeToo movement.
Now, in a Los Angeles courtroom, eight women are set to testify in a trial altogether similar to the one that led to Weinstein’s landmark conviction two years ago.
Weinstein, the 70-year-old movie producer, has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges based on allegations of sexual assault at Los Angeles hotels between 2004 to 2013.
Opening statements in the trial began Monday and one woman has already testified about her alleged assault. Three more women are expected to testify directly to the charges, and four other women are expected to testify as “prior bad acts” witnesses, meaning their testimony isn’t directly connected to a charge but can be considered as prosecutors try to show Weinstein had a pattern in his behavior.
He was found guilty in New York in 2020 of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape and was sentenced to 23 years in prison. He has appealed.
Here’s what we know about the women set to testify in the California case and the charges connected to their allegations based on comments from the prosecution, the defense and their testimony.
Weinstein is charged with forcible oral copulation and forcible rape of Jane Doe 4 between September 1, 2004, and September 30, 2005.
Jane Doe 4 has been identified as Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker and the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom. In a statement, her attorneys confirmed she would be testifying against Weinstein in court.
“Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein at a purported business meeting that turned out to be a trap,” said Beth Fegan, one of Siebel Newsom’s attorneys. “She intends to testify at his trial to seek some measure of justice for survivors and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women.”
Siebel Newsom is a Stanford University graduate who has written, directed and produced several documentaries, including “Miss Representation,” “The Mask You Live In” and “The Great American Lie.” During her time as California’s first partner, Siebel Newsom has advocated for working mothers and launched initiatives focused on closing the gender pay gap, among other efforts.
In opening statements, prosecutor Paul Thompson said the assault occurred when Siebel Newsom was a “powerless actor trying to make her way in Hollywood.” Weinstein invited her to “discuss her career” at the Peninsula Hotel, and in a hotel room, he assaulted and raped her, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Mark Werksman countered that Siebel Newsom had consensual sex with Weinstein because she wanted his help getting roles and producing films.
Werksman also said Weinstein donated to two of Gov. Newsom’s political races and that Siebel Newsom took her husband to a Weinstein party. “She brought her husband to meet and party with the man who raped her. Who does that?” he asked.
Siebel Newsom has written about the incident with Weinstein in vague terms. In October 2017, just a day after The New York Times published its bombshell report on Weinstein, she wrote an opinion editorial for the Huffington Post saying she believed the report because she had a similar experience with Weinstein.
“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 wrote.
Weinstein is charged with forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by foreign object and forcible rape of Jane Doe 1 on or about February 18, 2013, in Los Angeles County, according to the indictment.
Jane Doe 1 was a model and actress who was married, had three children and was living in Italy in 2013. She speaks Russian, Italian and English, but her English was not very good at the time, she said.
She was the first witness to testify in the trial and said she was staying in a hotel for the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival when she got a call that Weinstein wanted to see her. She testified she had met him previously in Rome.
He came to her hotel room and tried to rape her, she testified.
“I wanted to die. It was disgusting. It was humiliating, miserable. I didn’t fight,” she testified in court. “I remember how he was looking in the mirror and he was telling me to look at him. I wish this never happened to me.”
Years later, she told her daughter about the assault in an attempt to connect with her about a similar issue, she testified. Jane Doe 1 then went to the police in October 2017 because she promised her daughter she would, she testified.
In the defense’s opening statements, Werksman said she had fabricated the story and argued there was no evidence he went to her hotel room. Under cross-examination, she acknowledged she had no evidence to show the jury that would prove she was with Weinstein that night and said she couldn’t remember everything about the incident.
“I remember a lot but I forgot a lot also,” she said.
Weinstein is charged with sexual battery by restraint of Jane Doe 2 on or about February 19, 2013, in Los Angeles County.
Jane Doe 2 was a 23-year-old model and aspiring screenwriter who had been modeling since she was 12, Thompson said in opening statements.
She alleges she was assaulted during the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival, according to Thompson. She met with Weinstein at a restaurant at the Montage hotel and told him she wanted to be a screenwriter, the prosecutor said. The meeting then moved to a space upstairs, and when Weinstein led her into a bathroom, another woman shut the door behind Jane Doe 2, the prosecutor said.
While she was trapped inside with Weinstein, he allegedly undid her dress, groped her and masturbated, the prosecutor said.
The next day, she went to a pre-scheduled meeting with a Weinstein Company employee and was advised to go on “Project Runway,” a Weinstein-produced reality TV show.
Werksman, the defense attorney, said in opening statements that Jane Doe 2 fabricated her story and noted that she met with the Weinstein Company employee the next day.
Weinstein is charged with sexual battery by restraint of Jane Doe 3 on or about May 11, 2010.
Jane Doe 3 was a licensed massage therapist who often worked with celebrities and athletes, Thompson said.
In 2010, she massaged Weinstein and then went to the restroom to wash her hands, and he followed her into the bathroom, backed her into a corner, groped her and masturbated, Thompson said.
Weinstein had suggested Jane Doe 3 could write a book about her massage work, Thompson said, and afterward an aide to Weinstein paid her $200 for the massage and put her in touch with Miramax’s book division about a potential book deal.
In contrast, Werksman argued that their sexual interaction was consensual and part of an arrangement. He said that Jane Doe 3 gave him four additional massages after the alleged assault.
“She made a deal. Sex in exchange for something of value. Jane Doe 3 and Mr. Weinstein were friends with benefits,” Werksman argued.
Weinstein is charged with four counts related to Jane Doe 5: forcible oral copulation and forcible rape between November 3 and November 9, 2009, and forcible oral copulation and forcible rape on or about November 5, 2010, according to the indictment.
However, prosecutors did not mention her or her accusations in opening statements of the trial, and neither did the defense. The current status of these charges is not clear.
“While we have no comment at this time, our office is tirelessly ensuring all of the victims in this case receive justice,” the district attorney’s office said.
Like in his New York trial, Weinstein’s LA trial will feature testimony from several “prior bad acts” witnesses.
There are four of these witnesses in this case, identified by their first name and initial. Each of these women alleged they were assaulted by Weinstein outside of LA jurisdiction.
In all, the defense argued these witnesses were being used solely to “confuse and overwhelm” the jury. Werksman defended Weinstein’s actions as part of the “casting couch” culture at the time.
The prosecution said the testimony from these women will prove Weinstein’s guilt on the charges.
“Each of these women came forward independent of each other, and none of them knew one another,” Thompson told the jury.
Ambra B. went to Weinstein’s office for a meeting in Manhattan in 2015 and he grabbed her breast and put his hand up her skirt, prosecutors said. She reported the incident to the NYPD, which then directed her to speak with him on the phone and at a hotel restaurant and secretly record their conversations, according to Thompson. No charges were filed against Weinstein.
Werksman argued nothing on the recording was tantamount to a confession and dismissed her as someone playing a “junior G-man” in an undercover sting targeting Weinstein.
Ashley M., a dancer in the movie “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” was alone in a hotel room with Weinstein in 2003 and said he groped her and masturbated on her, according to Thompson.
Werksman argued she did not resist or refuse the interaction at the time.
Natassia M. met Weinstein and briefly interacted with him at an industry party for the 2008 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards and alleges he raped her at her hotel, according to Thompson.
Werksman said there was no evidence of rape and notes they maintained contact for years afterward.
Kelly S. was an actor in 1991 when, in a hotel room for the Toronto International Film Festival, Weinstein raped her, Thompson said. In 2008, at the same festival, she went to his hotel room with the intention of confronting him, and when he allegedly started groping her and masturbating, she left the room, the prosecutor said.
Werksman attacked the idea that she didn’t confront him immediately upon seeing him again in 2008 and said she didn’t report the incident to police until 2018.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Harvey Weinstein was arrested in the alleged incident involving Ambra B.