Actor and filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom began her testimony at Harvey Weinstein’s trial Monday, becoming emotional as soon as she took her oath on the stand. The most high-profile witness, named Jane Doe #4 in the case, Siebel Newsom is married to Gov. Gavin Newsom. A public advocate for gender equality and against sexual harassment, she alleges that she was raped by Weinstein in 2005.
Siebel Newsom said she was nervous when she was first greeted by the prosecutor, deputy district attorney Marlene Martinez. When asked to identify Weinstein in the courtroom, as all witnesses are asked to do, she broke into tears at the question, managing to say “yes” into the microphone. “He’s wearing a suit, and a blue tie, and he’s staring at me,” Siebel Newsom said, identifying the defendant. “I’m sorry, I just need to take a deep breath,” she said at one point early during questioning.
Siebel Newsom told the jury that when she first met Weinstein in 2005 at the Toronto International Film Festival, she was a working actor and producer with small roles, guest starring on TV shows and films, and she was not yet dating Newsom. The prosecution made clear to the jurors that back in 2005, she did not have the same stature that she does today, as the First Partner of California.
“Harvey Weinstein was more powerful than me,” Siebel Newsom said. “He was like the kingmaker. He was the top of the industry.”
Siebel Newsom recalled meeting Weinstein when she was with a group of industry peers at a gathering in a hotel area during the film festival. She described Weinstein as holding extreme power in the room. “It felt like the Red Sea was parting. I don’t know if it was deference or fear,” she said when he approached her to introduce himself.
“Something kind of happened and there was this big person coming toward me, and everybody sort of backed away. Then Harvey Weinstein introduced himself to me,” Siebel Newsom recalled. “He came directly to me and people sort of backed off. He wanted to know who I was, what my name was, why I was there.”
She continued, “I felt a bit intimidated. He was charming. He treated me initially like he was really curious about me.” After briefly meeting, Weinstein asked to meet up with her later. “I felt like I had to, like ‘Okay, sure,’” she said. “I felt like there was a genuine interest in talking about my work.”
Later, she met up with Weinstein at the hotel bar, which was a public venue. She said he was very focused on her and not her friend. “One thing that was interesting is that he was very charming. He saw that I was smart,” she said. “He was really focused on telling me I was special and I was different.”
After roughly 20 minutes on the stand, the judge broke for a lunch break. Siebel Newsom will resume her testify later on Monday afternoon.
Siebel Newsom’s first day in court created a media frenzy, bringing the largest crowd to Weinstein’s trial thus far. The hallways in the courthouse were cleared for her entrance and exit during breaks so that she was shielded from the public, and she was accompanied by government security officials in the courtroom. The ninth floor of the downtown criminal courthouse where Weinstein’s trial is taking place is a high-security floor with high-profile cases, including Danny Masterson’s rape trial happening down the hall. In comparison to the security measures put in place for Siebel Newsom, a non-political public figure like Masterson does not receive the same heightened measures and walks freely throughout the halls among the public, media and jurors when he takes a bathroom break or walks in and out of the courtroom.
From Variety US