Harvey Weinstein's legal team grilled one of the prosecution's key witnesses during cross-examination Monday. Jessica Mann, who testified Friday that Weinstein raped her twice in 2013 when they were in a relationship, fielded questions from Donna Rotunno that targeted her credibility.
Rotunno, the disgraced producer's top lawyer, read an email Mann sent to Weinstein in April 2013, one month after she said she was raped at the DoubleTree Hotel in Manhattan. "I hope to see you sooner than later," it said, per the Hollywood Reporter. In August 2013, Mann emailed him, "I hope some of your genius rubs off on me."
"You knew that your words were a problem in your testimony," Rotunno told Mann, according to THR. "You sent him emails telling him how wonderful he was. You sent him emails thanking him. You sent him emails asking for things."
Mann, a hairdresser and former aspiring actress, explained that she sent flattering emails because she was scared of Weinstein and wanted to appear non-threatening.
"There was a reason my behavior was like this," she said. "It’s just keeping him happy. I felt safe on email."
At one point, Mann admitted to being "confused" about what she had said in the past, a word Rotunno jumped on.
"You’re confused a lot, Ms. Mann," Rotunno said, which drew a sustained objection from the prosecution. Weinstein's lawyer also suggested Mann maintained a relationship with the former media mogul because she liked having access to Hollywood parties. Rotunno claimed Mann "manipulated" Weinstein during their interactions.
"You made him think that you wanted to be there," Rotunno alleged. "You could have walked away from Harvey Weinstein and never seen him again."
During their relationship, Mann said Weinstein forced her to participate in degrading sexual acts. On Monday, she was asked to elaborate about a time when he allegedly urinated on her. "I was shocked by it," she said. "It was gross."
Rotunno also had Mann read from a letter she wrote to her then-boyfriend in 2014.
"My secret and my fear is knowing that a part of the dynamic with Harvey would mean that you would never talk to me again," Mann read in court, according to the Wrap. "I had to work through a lot of illusion … and father issues.
"I told you how sometimes I felt hopeless, that I should just be with an older man because I’m a lost cause," Mann continued. "I accepted that my father was that older man. … I in turn would be that kind of woman because of my failed relationships."
Mann read, "Harvey validated me. He always offered to help me in ways that my parents didn’t... Harvey was my father’s age and he gave me all the validation I needed.
"I remember the day I realized it was controlling my world because I was sexually assaulted," she stated in the letter. "That story played out where I played into sexual dynamics with people to feel like I would never be taken advantage of again. When that happened I grieved deeply for myself."
According to the Wrap, court was dismissed early Monday when "Mann began uncontrollably sobbing and appeared to be having difficulty breathing. She was not able to regain composure after a short break, telling attorneys she was experiencing a panic attack..." Fox News reported Mann "started sobbing and couldn't stop."
On Friday, Mann emotionally testified about being abused by Weinstein. She claimed he assaulted her when she told him she was dating another man. "The more I fought, the angrier he got," she said, choking back tears. "His anger scared me."
She added, "I entered into what I thought was going to be a real relationship with him and it was extremely degrading from that point on."
Mann claimed she "stayed in contact with [Harvey] for several reasons" including that she thought "he was going to hurt my father."
On Tuesday, Tarale Wulff will be called back to the witness stand to answer more questions. Last week Wulff, a former cocktail waitress, wept as she claimed Weinstein raped her in 2005. She is one of the three "prior bad acts" witnesses allowed.
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