By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The former roommate of Mimi Haleyi, one of the women who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, took the stand on Tuesday in the former Hollywood mogul’s rape trial.
Elizabeth Entin told jurors that Haleyi, visibly upset, told her in the summer of 2006 that Weinstein forced oral sex on her.
“I said, ‘Miriam, that sounds like rape,'” Entin testified, using Haleyi’s full first name.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Haleyi and Jessica Mann. Since 2017, more than 80 women, including many famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
The accusations fueled the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct. Weinstein’s trial is widely seen as a key moment for the movement.
Weinstein, who reshaped the independent film industry with critically acclaimed pictures such as “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.
Haleyi, who worked as a production assistant on a Weinstein television show, told jurors on Monday that Weinstein invited her to his Manhattan home in July 2006 and attacked her, backing her into a bedroom and forcing oral sex on her.
Entin said on Tuesday that she and Haleyi shared an apartment in 2006.
She said that one evening Haleyi appeared unusually nervous, and told her Weinstein had assaulted her in his home.
“She said ‘I’m on my period’ and he said ‘I don’t care,’ at which point he threw her down, pulled down her underwear, pulled out her tampon and went down on her while she was saying ‘no,'” Entin said.
Entin testified that she told Haleyi her experience sounded like rape and urged her to speak to a lawyer, but that Haleyi did not want to.
Entin said that weeks before the alleged attack, Haleyi called her at work to tell her that Weinstein had barged into their apartment and begged her to come to Paris with him. Entin said Haleyi told her that Entin’s chihuahua, Peanut, was “kind of chasing him around” and that Weinstein seemed afraid of the dog.
At the time, Entin said, she saw Weinstein not as a threat but as “a pathetic older man trying to hit on Miriam.”
On cross-examination, Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, asked Entin whether she knew Weinstein had paid for Haleyi to travel to Los Angeles and London after the alleged assault, and that she had continued to communicate with him. Entin said she did not.
After Entin left the stand, prosecutors showed jurors several old photos of Weinstein, including one of him and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. They previously had said they wanted to introduce the photo to demonstrate Weinstein’s power and connections.
Haleyi was the second accuser to testify against Weinstein at the trial. Actress Annabella Sciorra, known for her role on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” testified last week that Weinstein forced his way into her Manhattan apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994 and violently raped her.
While Sciorra’s allegation is too old to support a separate rape charge against Weinstein, prosecutors hope it will show he is a repeat sexual predator – a charge that could put him in prison for life.
Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, is expected to testify that Weinstein raped her in 2013.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Tom Brown and Jonathan Oatis)