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Key Harvey Weinstein accuser breaks down in tears during cross-examination

Dramatic start to Harvey Weinstein trial

A key accuser in the New York City rape trial of Harvey Weinstein broke down in tears on the witness stand Monday during an exhaustive cross-examination over the nature of her relationship with the former movie mogul. The emotional testimony came after the defense sought to paint Jessica Mann as an opportunistic manipulator who took advantage of Weinstein while pursuing an acting career, even after he allegedly raped her.

Mann, 34, said she "tried to make [Weinstein] my pseudo father" after a rough upbringing. She read from a lengthy confessional email she sent to her then-boyfriend in May 2014 about her relationship with Weinstein.

"Harvey was my father's age and he gave me all the validation I needed at that time," she said as she choked up. "I tried to make him a pseudo father."

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Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for his trial on charges of rape and sexual assault, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 in New York.  AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

She began weeping uncontrollably after reading a passage attempting to explain that she had submitted to Weinstein's sexual advances because she had been sexually assaulted when she was younger. She was still crying after an eight-minute break when the judge cut the day short, dismissing the jury about an hour earlier than usual.
 
During her testimony on Friday, Mann described a "degrading" relationship and sometimes forced sexual encounters with Weinstein when she was an aspiring actress in her 20s. Mann told jurors that Weinstein trapped her in a New York hotel room in March 2013 and angrily ordered her to undress as he loomed over her, and then raped her.
 
A second attack came eight months later at a Los Angeles hotel, where she worked as a hairdresser, after she told Weinstein that she was dating an actor, she said.
 
"You owe me one more time!" she said he screamed at her. She said she begged him not to take off her clothes, but he said, "I don't have time for games," and ripped off her pants before pushing her legs apart and raping her.
 
Weinstein, 67, has insisted that any sexual encounters were consensual. His lawyers have aimed to raise doubts about Mann's credibility by seizing on her complicated history with the former film producer.
 
Earlier in the day, Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno grilled Mann about consensual sex with Weinstein that Mann claimed only happened after "a long negotiation." Even then, "I wasn't happy to do it," Mann said.

"The more I realized I was just being used, I tried not to have sexual conversations with him. I would make up excuses. It was this back and forth. At a certain point I would give in," Mann said.

Rotunno asked whether Mann lied to Weinstein and made him think she wanted the sexual encounters. 
 
"You manipulated Mr. Weinstein every single time, isn't that correct?" Rotunno asked.
 
She responded: "I felt there was an aspect to the way I felt I needed to protect myself that had an element of manipulation."
 
Mann caused a stir Friday when, asked by a prosecutor to describe Weinstein's body, she said that when she first saw him naked, she noticed "extreme scarring" and thought he had characteristics of both male and female genitalia.
 
"When I first saw him, I was filled with compassion, absolute compassion," she said, adding, "It seemed his anger came from a place of pain."
 
On Monday, Rotunno grilled Mann on why she continued to engage in sexual encounters with Weinstein even though she wasn't attracted to him. When Rotunno said it was because Mann "liked going to the parties," Mann replied, "That's your version."
 
At times during the cross-examination, Mann struggled to recall certain details and at one point asked for a break, saying, "I'm getting a little foggy."
 
The defense attorney pressed Mann about communications in which she provided Weinstein with her new phone number and encouraged him to get in touch.
 
One read: "I got a new number. Just wanted you to have it. Hope you are well and call me anytime, always good to hear your voice," according to court papers.
 
The defense pointed to emails between Mann and Weinstein that appeared to show Mann was still cutting Weinstein's hair in early 2014. In one January 2014 email, he wrote her: "That's the best hair cut and trim I've gotten. I've gotten a million compliments. Thank you."
 
She wrote back: "Your the one who makes it look good with your smile and beautiful eyes!! But thank you that makes me so happy to hear :)"

Harvey Weinstein portrayed as a "sexual predator" as trial opens

Rotunno asked Mann whether she was trying to make Weinstein "believe that you cared about him."
 
"I did want him to think that I was naive and safe and not a threat," she responded.
 
"But you're not naive, are you?"
 
"I'm observant but I'm not that smart," she replied.
 
The testimony comes at a pivotal moment in the trial of Weinstein, whose downfall energized the #MeToo movement. He is charged in New York with raping Mann in 2013 and also sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi, a former "Project Runway" production assistant, in 2006. A conviction could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Mann was expected to return to the stand Tuesday.

Reporting from The Associated Press and CBS News' Shawn Matthews.

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