Accuser Called Weinstein a ‘Spiritual Soul Mate,’ Former Friend Tells Jury

Patricia Hurtado
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Accuser Called Weinstein a ‘Spiritual Soul Mate,’ Former Friend Tells Jury

(Bloomberg) -- Former friends of two Harvey Weinstein accusers assailed their credibility at Weinstein’s sexual assault trial, with one saying that prosecution witness Jessica Mann once referred to the movie producer as her “soul mate.”

Testifying on Monday for the defense, Talita Maia, a Brazilian actor who lived with Mann in Los Angeles, contradicted her former roommate’s account that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel in February 2013 as Maia was in the next room. Weinstein was charged with raping Mann, now 34, in a Manhattan hotel the following month when she came to New York with Maia and another friend.

Maia told the jury in New York state court in lower Manhattan that when she and Mann first met Weinstein, at a Hollywood Hills party in early 2013, Mann was “flirtatious” with the producer. According to Maia, Mann later became romantically involved with Weinstein. When the two met him together again at the Beverly Hills hotel, Maia testified, Mann went into the bedroom with Weinstein and emerged acting “normal.”

Under questioning by defense lawyer Donna Rotunno, Maia said she wasn’t worried that her friend was alone with Weinstein.

“Let me explain,” she said. “To what is known about Harvey nowadays, I had no reason to believe there was any harm.”

Maia told the jury of seven men and five women that Mann said nothing about an assault.

Under cross-examination, Maia said that Mann didn’t find Weinstein “attractive” but “spoke very highly of him” and “said a few times he was her spiritual soul mate.”

Read More: Weinstein Said During Assault, ‘All the Actresses Do This,’ Jury Told

Weinstein, 67, has been charged in New York with rape and predatory sexual assault for alleged attacks on Mann and Miriam Haley (formerly Haleyi) and could go to prison for the rest of his life if convicted. He maintains the encounters were consensual and mutually beneficial.

Defense lawyers on Monday told the court they could finish presenting evidence on Tuesday. The jury could get the case as early as Feb. 18.

Weinstein’s legal team also called Claudia Salinas, a Mexican actor and model, to refute the testimony of model Lauren Young, who testified last week that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the same hotel, the Montage, the same month.

Young, 30, told the jury she went with Salinas to Weinstein’s hotel room to pitch a screenplay as an aspiring actor. She said Salinas then “trapped” her alone in the bathroom with him by shutting the door behind her. Prosecutors called Young as one of three women to establish a pattern of sexual predation.

Defense attorney Damon Cheronis on Monday homed in on specific details of Young’s account.

“Did you ever close that door when Lauren Young was in the bathroom?” Cheronis asked Salinas.

“No, because if I had done that, I would have remembered that,” Salinas said, adding she would never do such a thing.

Read More: Weinstein Was Jekyll, Hyde, Then Rapist, Witness Tells Jury

On cross-examination, Salinas acknowledged that after rebuffing Weinstein’s advances at 19, she introduced him to friends.

Salinas said she was cast in two Weinstein movies and also had tried to do a business deal with the producer. Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast asked her if she’d ever described Weinstein as “a little bit of a bully.”

“He was a little bit of a bully, business-wise,” Salinas said.

Salinas said Weinstein frequently used hotel suites for business, so she wouldn’t have thought it odd that he asked her and Young up to his room.

“I don’t recall it, but it could have happened, “ she testified. “If I did that, I meant, if it happened, I most certainly wasn’t there, because I never saw that happening, so I don’t know what happened.”

Salinas told the jury she met Weinstein in 2003 when she was studying dance and acting in New York. Hast referred her to interviews with investigators in which she said Weinstein pursued her, she rejected him and he ultimately gave up and urged her, instead, to “bring your good-looking friends” -- including Young.

Salinas acknowledged that, adding: “All my friends are good-looking.”

The case is People v. Weinstein, 450293/2018, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

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(Updates with details starting in third paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in Federal Court in Manhattan at pathurtado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Jeffrey

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