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A woman who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault testified in his rape trial on Thursday.
Ashley M. said that Weinstein invoked actress Gwyneth Paltrow during a 2003 encounter.
"Look what I did for her career," she remembered him saying as he tried to initiate a "naked massage."
Gwyneth Paltrow was nowhere to be found in the Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday, but the Hollywood star's name rang out all the same as a woman who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault delivered emotional testimony in the disgraced mogul's criminal trial on rape charges.
Court proceedings in the case continued this week with testimony from several witnesses. LA County prosecutors have charged Weinstein with 11 counts of sexual assault stemming from allegations by five different women who accused the one-time producer of abusing them in LA hotels between 2004 and 2013.
Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence in a New York prison following an East Coast trial but faces an additional life sentence heading into the West Coast proceedings. He has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty.
All five women are expected to testify against Weinstein, as well as four "prior bad acts witnesses," whose testimony is not directly related to the criminal charges but can be considered by the jury as prosecutors attempt to establish Weinstein's alleged pattern of behavior.
One such witness took the stand on Thursday. The woman, identified as Ashley M., said Weinstein groped her and masturbated on her in a Puerto Rico hotel room in 2003 while she was filming "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," a film produced by Weinstein's production company.
Ashley M. was visibly shaken and dabbing her eyes with a tissue before questioning even began, telling the courtroom through tears that she was "upset" to be in the same room as Weinstein. Judge Lisa B. Lench ordered a 10-minute break to allow her to compose herself before she started testifying.
When she returned to the courtroom, Ashley M. described how Weinstein sought her out on set in 2003 and initiated a private conversation with her away from the other cast and crew. At first, the producer was just complimenting her looks, she testified, but he soon brought up doing a "naked massage."
Ashley M, who was engaged at the time, said she was scared by the suggestion and brought up her fiancé in an effort to dissuade Weinstein. But he kept pushing, saying it would be a "naked massage like friends" and telling her that he "did it with Gwyneth Paltrow," Ashley M. testified.
"Look what I did for her career," she remembered him saying.
Representatives for Paltrow did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The Oscar-winning actress accused Weinstein of sexual harassment in a 2017 New York Times article, telling the outlet that the film producer summoned her to his hotel room after he hired her to star in "Emma." She was 22 at the time and said the encounter ended with Weinstein touching her and suggesting that they massage each other in the bedroom.
"I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified," she told The Times.
Paltrow said she refused his advances and told her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt about the incident. Pitt reportedly confronted Weinstein, prompting the producer to warn Paltrow to keep her mouth shut about the encounter.
Several of Weinstein's accusers have made similar allegations involving massages.
Soon after Weinstein propositioned Ashley M. for a massage, he instructed her to get in a limo with him and his assistant, and the three traveled to a nearby hotel where he assaulted her, she testified. Through tears, Ashley M. said Weinstein shoved her onto the bed, took her shirt and bra off, began fondling her breasts, and then masturbated as he straddled her.
Ashley M. said she was hysterically crying throughout the entire assault but was grateful that "it wasn't rape."
Attorney Elizabeth Fegan, who is representing several of the women testifying in Weinstein's LA trial, commended Ashley's testimony in a Friday statement.
"Over the last two days, my client Ashley M. shared her story, using her own voice to take back her power and hold Harvey Weinstein accountable for his actions," Fegan said. "She delivered powerful testimony, and her bravery in doing so is commendable."
Read the original article on Insider