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Harvey Weinstein accuser Mimi Haleyi takes the stand: "I couldn't get away from him"

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Former "Project Runway" production assistant Mimi Haleyi took the stand Monday at the rape trial of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Haleyi says Weinstein sexually assaulted her in his New York City apartment in 2006.

Weinstein, 67, is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on Haleyi and raping another woman, an aspiring actress, in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. His trial launched with opening statements last week.

On Thursday, "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra testified that Weinstein forced his way into her Manhattan apartment in the mid-1990s, pinned her to a bed and raped her. Sciorra's allegation is not included in the criminal complaint against Weinstein, but she is one of four other accusers prosecutors are expected to call as they seek to prove Weinstein had a pattern of assaulting women.

Weinstein has insisted any sexual encounters were consensual. Weinstein's lawyers have said they will point to friendly emails after the alleged assaults to call his accusers' stories into question.

 

Weinstein defense points to friendly emails and trips

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Damon Cheronis continued to zero in on Haleyi's communications with Weinstein after the alleged attack. He pointed to calendar entries and emails that show Haleyi meeting with Weinstein, pitching him on a TV show and traveling at his expense to Los Angeles and London.

When Weinstein and Haleyi couldn't connect before she left London, she sent him an email lamenting: "totally bummed to have missed you guys."

Cheronis questioned Haleyi about the statement she made with her lawyer Gloria Allred in October 2017, when she first publicly accused Weinstein. Cheronis asked whether Haleyi mentioned "the rest of the story" during the statement, to which she replied, "It would have been a two-hour statement."
 
"You knew that if you did tell the rest of that, the world would look at you very skeptical," Cheronis said.
 
"That's not true," Haleyi responded. She denied having a "friendship" with Weinstein.
 
Court is in recess for the day and is expected to resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
 
— Reporting by The Associated Press and Shawn Matthews

 

Defense presses Haleyi on continued contact with Weinstein

On cross-examination, Cheronis seized on Haleyi's continued interactions with Weinstein, displaying on a large screen a friendly email she sent him after they ran into each other in Cannes in 2008.

Haleyi conceded she'd been in contact with Weinstein "not often, but yes occasionally" and that she sent the 2008 email after a newspaper article reminded her of a conversation they had weeks before the alleged assault.

The jury of seven men and five women heard last week from Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist who said that most sex assault victims continue to have contact with their attackers, often under threat of retaliation if the victims tell anyone what happened.

Haleyi said she dealt with the alleged assaults by compartmentalizing, occasionally interacting with Weinstein on a professional basis by passing along scripts from friends or discussing work opportunities.

"Honestly, I didn't know how to deal with it so it's almost like I put it away in a box, like it didn't happen and I just carried along as usual," Haleyi said.  

 

Haleyi says she "went numb" during second encounter

Haleyi also described a second encounter a few weeks after the alleged assault in a Tribeca hotel room where she said she "went numb" as Weinstein took her hand, pulled her toward the bed and had intercourse with her.

Haleyi said she "just felt like an idiot" for letting Weinstein convince her to meet again, but thought seeing him could help her regain power as she tried to make sense of the alleged assault. Asked if she wanted to have sex with Weinstein that night, she said, "no."

Haleyi, who was born in Finland and raised in Sweden, said she didn't call the police because she was working in the U.S. on a tourist visa and was scared of Weinstein's power. 

She told jurors: "Obviously, Mr. Weinstein has a lot more power and resources and connections and so forth. I didn't think I'd stand a chance."  

— Reporting by The Associated Press

 

Haleyi sobs as she says she tried to resist Weinstein's assault: "No, no, no"

Haleyi sobbed at times during her testimony Monday as she said Weinstein sexually assaulted her at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.

She said Weinstein had sent a car to pick her up for what she thought would be a friendly meeting about her career. The two were having a "normal conversation," she said, when Weinstein lunged at her and tried to kiss her.

Haleyi said she rejected Weinstein's advances, got up from the sofa and started backing away. But she said Weinstein pushed her into a bedroom, pinned her to a bed and forcibly performed oral sex on her.

Haleyi said she tried to resist, telling him she was menstruating and yelling "No, no, no."

"I did reject him, but he insisted," said Haleyi. "Every time I tried to get off the bed he would push me back and hold me down."

Haleyi testified she thought: "I'm being raped" and considered different options.

"If I scream rape, will someone hear me?" she said before she "checked out."

"I couldn't get away from him at all, let alone get away," Haleyi said. "I checked out and decided to endure it. That was the safest thing I could do."

— Reporting by The Associated Press and CBS News' Shawn Matthews

 

Haleyi says she rebuffed Weinstein's advances: "You have a terrible reputation with women"

Haleyi testified she met Weinstein while in her 20s at the 2004 London premiere of the Leonardo DiCaprio film "The Aviator." They crossed paths again at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and, when she expressed interest in working on one of his productions, he invited her to his hotel room and asked for a massage.

She declined, saying she was "extremely humiliated."

"I felt stupid because I was so excited to go see him and he treated me that way," she testified.

Haleyi said she left the hotel and burst into tears.

More meetings followed, and Weinstein secured Haleyi a job helping on the set of "Project Runway," the reality competition show he produced. Later, she said, he invited her to attend a fashion show in Paris.

She declined the trip, but she said Weinstein wouldn't take no for an answer, showing up unannounced at her apartment and pushing his way inside.

"At one point, because I just didn't know how to shut it down so to speak. ... So I said, 'You know you have a terrible reputation with women, I've heard,'" Haleyi said.

Weinstein "got offended," she said. "He stepped back and said, 'What have you heard?'"

Asked by prosecutor Meghan Hast if she had any romantic or sexual interest in Weinstein, Haleyi firmly answered: "Not at all, no."

— Reporting by The Associated Press and CBS News' Shawn Matthews

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