Jennifer Siebel Newsom, documentary filmmaker and actress married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, is among Harvey Weinstein’s accusers to testify inthat began Monday, her attorney said.
“Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein in a supposed business meeting that turned out to be a trap,” said Newsom’s attorney, Elizabeth Fegan. “She plans to testify at his trial to seek some measure of justice for the survivors and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women.”
Weinstein, the 70-year-old former movie mogul that he isafter being convicted in New York, he pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving Newsom and four other women. All of them will testify as Jane Doe during the eight-week trial in a Los Angeles court, where jury selection began Monday.
The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted, but Newsom agreed to be named through her attorney.
News of her involvement was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Newsom, 48, appeared in small roles in dozens of films and TV shows between 2002 and 2011. She has recently directed documentaries such as 2020’s “The Great American Lie” and this year’s “Fair Play.” Both deal with gender in society.
She wrote about her experience with Weinstein in a 2017 Huffington Post essay after the New York Times and New Yorker stories made him a magnet for the #MeToo movement, but gave few details.
Weinstein, who is being held in a Los Angeles County jail, was brought into court Monday in a wheelchair through a side door and carefully climbed through it into a seat next to one of his lawyers at the defense table. He wore a blue suit, which he is allowed to change out of prison garb during the trial.
He stood with the rest of the courtroom as the first group of 67 prospective jurors was brought in, but sat down about halfway through the proceedings. He waved to them from his seat when his lawyers introduced them.
Jurors were given a lengthy questionnaire intended to screen those who should be dismissed. Both the questions and answers on the forms are private, but earlier hearings about their contents revealed that they contain questions about how much media coverage of Weinstein they have seen and whether they have formed opinions from it, although the judge dismissed questions for specific stories and media.
The prosecution will be able to introduce into evidence Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault convictions, where the state’s highest court has agreed to hear his appeal.
The questionnaire also includes a question about a California law that says the testimony of just one sexual assault victim can be enough evidence to convict if a jury believes it.
Jurors were also given a long list of names of witnesses in the upcoming trial, including those accusers to see if they are related to them. The initial witness list in the case had more than 270 names, although fewer than half are expected. Most of the list of prospective witnesses has not been made public.
One witness, Barbara Schneeweiss, a producer on “Project Runway” and other TV shows, was in court early Monday and a judge said she was on call at any time.
Two more panels of up to 75 jurors will be presented on Tuesday and Wednesday. Individual juror questioning is not expected to begin until next week, and opening statements may not begin for two weeks.
The trial comes five years after women’s stories about Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement.
with four counts of rape and seven other sexual assaults.
Most of the incidents in his indictment, like Newsom’s, took place under the guise of business meetings at luxury hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, which Weinstein used as his California headquarters and where he could be seen during of awards season and throughout the year. Four of those happened during Oscars week in 2013, when Weinstein released “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Django Unchained” would win Academy Awards.