Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer plan to argue that the imprisoned producer did not sexually assault Jennifer Siebel Newsom almost 20 years ago, but had “consensual sex” with California’s now First Partner.
“Of all things you’d think a woman that is raped by Harvey Weinstein wouldn’t do, it’s how to deal with a sex scandal,” said defense lawyer Mark Werksman today during a DTLA motions hearing on the damning nearly one dozen charges his client is facing. “The fact that she comes to Mr. Weinstein for that advice indicates the friendship and companionship of Jane Doe 4 and Mr. Weinstein. The defense will be that they had an affair, that they had consensual sex.”
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As a suited Weinstein looked on and ongoing jury selection was paused in the high-profile case, lawyers for the defense and the LA County District Attorney’s office were at logger ends over the inclusion of 2007 correspondence between Newsom and Weinstein over revelations of an affair that Gavin Newsom had with an aide while Mayor of San Francisco. The email from the Jennifer Siebel came about two years after Weinstein allegedly assaulted the actress/filmmaker in an LA area hotel room and soon after the actress/filmmaker had started dating Mayor now Governor Newsom. The couple would marry in 2008 with Newsom becoming the Golden State’s lieutenant governor from 2011 to 2019 and then California’s 40th governor in 2019.
Long identified as Jane Doe #4 in court documents, Siebel Newsom last week went public with her role in the trial. “She intends to testify at his trial in order to seek some measure of justice for survivors, and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women,” said the First Partner’s attorney Elizabeth Fegan. “Please respect her choice to not discuss this matter outside of the courtroom,” the lawyer went on to say of her client, who first brought up her experience with the much-accused Pulp Fiction producer in a 2017 article soon after the New York Times’ expose of Weinstein’s decades of vile behavior.
As a litany of motions whipped through the docket, they were certainly discussing Siebel Newsom today at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
“She comes to him to basically navigate a sex scandal,” Werksman exclaimed of the ongoing contact between Siebel Newsom and Weinstein. In a session Monday that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench called sometimes “very dramatic,” the judge eventually ruled the 2007 email can be entered into the case, sort of. Hearing the objections from LA Assistant DA Marlene Martinez of including the correspondence and grilling Siebel Newsom over it, Judge Lench told the court: “I’m not going to allow it Mr. Werksman. If you want to ask him whether she sought his advice over a situation with the press, that’s fine.” She added that in her opinion the gist of the email was “too tangential in relation to this trial.”
Various texts and tweets sought by both sides from Siebel Newsom, including one about former First Daughter Malia Obama’s chances of being assaulted during her internship at the now shuttered Weinstein Company, were rejected by Judge Kaplan today.
Still, in this year of an anticipated easy re-election for Democrat Newsom, the issue of politics and donations by the one-time deep pocketed Weinstein to the various Newsom campaigns over the years also came up. “We’re seeking to exclude anything political, because this has nothing to do with politics,” declared LA Assistant DA Martinez in court Monday afternoon. “Your honor surely you’re not suggesting that the defense can’t question Jane Doe 4 over her solicitation of donations for her boyfriend from Mr. Weinstein,” retorted defense lawyer Werksman. The judge pointed out to all present that part of the questionnaire for potential jurors mentions Newsom and his political stances and that could prove problematic. The defense promised they would avoid the topic in talking to likely jurors, which seemed to satisfy the D.A’s office for now.
Weinstein is facing grand jury indictments of four counts of rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, one count of sexual penetration by use of force, plus one count of sexual battery by restraint and sexual battery in incidents involving five women in L.A. County from 2004 to 2013. Sentenced to 23-years in prison by a Manhattan jury in March 2020 for multiple sex crimes, Weinstein faces a maximum of 140 years behind bars if found guilty in L.A
With jury selection expected to go until October 23 and opening arguments soon to follow, Weinstein’s LA trial is anticipated to last until likely the end of the year.
The clearly ailing 70-year old past mogul is simultaneously preparing to launch his appeal in the East Coast trial, after Janet DiFiore, the chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, earlier this summer granted Weinstein the right to appeal his New York case. Oral arguments on whether Weinstein received a fair trial two years ago will commence in early 2023.
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