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Weinstein rape accuser testifies: "The more I fought, the angrier he got"

Dramatic start to Harvey Weinstein trial
Dramatic start to Harvey Weinstein trial 06:03

The woman whose rape allegation led to criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein took the stand Friday in a pivotal moment for both sides in his New York trial. Sobbing at points, Jessica Mann described a "degrading" relationship and sometimes forcible sexual encounters with Weinstein when she was an aspiring actress in her 20s. 

Mann, 34, testified that she moved from Washington state to Los Angeles to pursue acting and met Weinstein a party in late 2012 or early 2013. She told the jury how Weinstein talked about nurturing her acting career, but pressured her for sex. She described trying to fight off his advances at a hotel, saying, "The more I fought, the angrier he got."

Mann said she was scared of Weinstein's anger and gave in to oral sex when he said, "I'm not letting you leave until I do something for you."

Meanwhile, defense lawyers plan to seize on the accuser's complicated history with Weinstein, including continued interactions and warm emails she sent him, as they try to raise doubts about her credibility. Weinstein, 67, denies any non-consensual sexual encounters.  

Weinstein is charged with raping Mann and with sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi, a former "Project Runway" production assistant, in 2006. 

Prosecutors are hoping Mann's testimony will hammer home the most serious charges in a case that stems from the allegations of just two of the scores of women who have accused Weinstein of violating them. Prosecutors hope to use the testimony of four other accusers to prove Weinstein had a pattern of assaulting women. A conviction could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Harvey Weinstein Trial Continues In New York
Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at court for his sexual assault trial in Manhattan on January 31, 2020. Getty Images

Mann alleges Weinstein raped her in his New York City hotel room in March 2013 after injecting himself with medicine to induce an erection. She was a 27-year-old aspiring actress and he was about to turn 61. 

Mann's testimony began as she described previous encounters with Weinstein, including one at a Los Angeles hotel where she said he pressured her into giving him a massage, calling him "manipulative."

"I was saying I was uncomfortable and I didn't want something and he was making me feel stupid," Mann said.
Mann said she later met for drinks with Weinstein at a hotel bar with a friend. Weinstein said the two were perfect for a vampire movie he was producing, she said, and asked them to come upstairs where he had the scripts. 

"'Oh, no. I know what that means,'" she said she told him. "And he laughed at me and said, 'I am a harmless old man.'"  

Mann said she and her friend were sitting on a couch in the hotel room when Weinstein went into a bedroom and started calling for Mann.
She said Weinstein grabbed her by the arm, pulled her inside and started kissing her.
"I was  like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, I told you, I'm not sexual, I don't know you,'" Mann testified. She said she and Weinstein got into a "tussle" as she tried to leave the room.
"The more I fought, the angrier he got, and then his anger scared me so I tried to calm him down," Mann said.
Mann said Weinstein told her, "I'm not letting you leave until I do something for you."

He then told her to sit on the bed and performed oral sex on her.
After she faked an orgasm "to get out of it," she said, Weinstein asked her whether she'd liked it.

"I was nervous so I told him, 'The best I ever had,'" she said, adding that she dashed out of the room as soon as she could.
Afterwards, Mann said, she made a decision to be in a relationship with Weinstein because "I had a sexual encounter with him and that wasn't something I could undo, and that really confused and hurt me and there's a stigma." She said she started having "non-forcible" oral sex with Weinstein, describing the relationship as "him wanting to see me, basically like a fix, like a drug addict."
Mann said she wasn't sexually attracted to Weinstein but had compassion for him and that he reminded her of her father.
"My dad had a similar anger," Mann said, her voice shaking. 
Mann said she soon decided to break off the relationship, but maintained contact with Weinstein in part because she said he had threatened her father and she was afraid he would hurt him.
She said Weinstein had a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality, saying he could be charming in public but behind closed doors, "it would be dependent upon if I gave him what he wanted." She said hearing the word "no" was a trigger for his anger.
Mann described an incident after a Manhattan house party in which she said Weinstein tried to orchestrate a threesome with another woman. Mann said the woman didn't speak English well and appeared nervous. 
"I saw myself in her, not being able to communicate, and I broke down and ran out of there into the bathroom and I started crying and crying," Mann said. "And I was completely overwhelmed by it." 
Mann said she had been trying to avoid sexual situations with Weinstein in March of 2013 when she was staying at a New York City hotel with an industry agent. She had plans to meet Weinstein for breakfast at the hotel with the agent and the friend, but Weinstein showed up early, before the friend arrived and while the agent was still asleep.

New charges against Weinstein in L.A. 01:15

She said Weinstein started to check in to the hotel, and she "freaked out," went up to the counter and said they didn't need a room. "I knew what he was trying to do," she said.
Weinstein was angry and pulled her aside, telling her not to embarrass him, she said.
 "I was looking at the people at the counter pleading, I didn't want them to give him a room key," Mann said.
In the room, Mann said she tried to open the door twice to leave but Weinstein blocked her both times. He ordered her to undress, "like a drill sergeant and sharp and angry," Mann said. Weinstein "stood over me until I was completely naked," she told jurors. She said Weinstein went into the bathroom and came out naked, then got on top of her and raped her.
Later, she said, she saw a needle in the trashcan and realized Weinstein had injected himself. "I was in shock over that," she said, crying.

Weinstein's lawyers say Mann followed up the alleged rape with warm — even flirtatious — emails that said things like "Miss you, big guy," and that no one "understands me quite like you." The defense argues the messages point to a consensual relationship, not a heinous sex crime. 

Not once, in more than 400 messages between the two, did Mann accuse Weinstein of harming her, his lawyers have said.

When asked by a prosecutor to explain the emails, Mann said she used  "a lot of flattery and a lot of compliments" to try and avoid his anger by appearing "innocent and naive and not a threat."

"His ego was so fragile. It would also make me feel safe because worshipping him in this sense was really, there's a lot of dynamics in the relationship," she said.

Mann described another incident at a Los Angeles hotel where she had been working as a hairdresser. When she told Weinstein she was dating an actor, Weinstein's eyes "went black," she said. 

"He lifted me up from the chair and was screaming, 'You owe me, you owe me one more time,'" Mann said.

She said Weinstein dragged her into the bedroom as she struggled to maintain her balance because he was "pulling me so fast." Mann sobbed as he said Weinstein demanded she take off her clothes, and she refused. She said Weinstein replied, "I don't have time for games," then ripped her pants down so forcefully he left scratches down her thighs.

"I froze, I crawled back to the pillows and I got into a ball and I had no strength," Mann said.

When Weinstein went into the bathroom, she said she thought, "Run, run," and grabbed her underwear. But she said Weinstein came back out and "grabbed my ankles and pulled me so hard that I flew back."

Still sobbing, she said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her, raped her, and then forced her to perform oral sex on him. 

Afterward, she said, she crawled into the bathroom, her eyes red and swollen from tears, and worried that he'd get angry if he knew she was crying. 

She said Weinstein said, "Now you can go have your relationship," but asked her to be his "wing girl" and bring him other women. Mann said Weinstein then apologized, saying "I find you so attractive I couldn't resist" and "We're still friends, right?"

She said she replied in the affirmative, and left.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Donna Rotunno asked Mann whether she wanted career help from Weinstein, and pressed her to admit she knew he was married.

Rotunno then asked Mann to read a blog post Mann wrote about the night of the threesome she said Weinstein orchestrated. The post had a light-hearted, comedic tone and depicted an awkward sexual encounter. "I hardly even know my own body… what the f--- was I supposed to do with her?" Mann read from the post, in which she refers to "an older man I was casually dating."

Rotunno grilled Mann, "You turned what you said was a horrible night into this?"

Mann replied the threesome was a "painful" experience and said she cried as she wrote the post.

-Reporting by The Associated Press and CBS News' Cassandra Gauthier

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