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Key Witness Miriam Haley Testifies Harvey Weinstein Raped Her

Jan 28, 2020
Originally published on January 28, 2020 9:58 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Before we get to this next story, we should let you know that we will be talking about sexual assault, and it might be disturbing to some of you. We are talking about Harvey Weinstein's trial, which continues in Manhattan this week.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

He's the man behind films like "Shakespeare In Love" and "Goodwill Hunting" and has been accused of sexually abusive behavior by more than 80 women. He is charged with five counts of rape and sexual assault against two women in New York. Last week, actress Annabella Sciorra took the stand to allege that he raped her in the winter of 1993-'94. Yesterday, it was an accuser named Miriam Haley. She is one of the women whose accusations are charged in this case.

KING: NPR's Rose Friedman was in the courthouse yesterday. She's on the line now from New York. Good morning, Rose.

ROSE FRIEDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: Miriam Haley is not a household name like some of Harvey Weinstein's accusers. Tell us about her.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah. She grew up in Sweden. She got a job working as a personal assistant for a producer named Michael White. He did movies like "Monty Python's Holy Grail" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." He introduced her to Harvey Weinstein at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. Then his health went downhill and Haley was basically out of work. So she ran into Weinstein again at Cannes. By that point, she's in her late 20s. And she asked if he could help her out. She said she'd been planning on moving to New York anyway, so he offered her a few weeks on "Project Runway," which his company was making, and she accepted.

KING: And then what did she testify that Harvey Weinstein did to her?

FRIEDMAN: It was a disturbing story. She cried a couple times while she told it. It's tough to listen to and honestly kind of tough to talk about. She described a kind of escalating series of behaviors from Weinstein. At their first meeting in a hotel, he asked her for a massage, which she said felt humiliating to her. Then on another occasion, he offered her a ride home and tried to enter her apartment. After that, he showed up at her apartment unannounced. These were all under the pretext of business meetings, which the prosecution was careful to point out often happen in hotels in the entertainment business. Finally, Haley says Weinstein invited her to his own home where she says they were chatting uneventfully on the couch when he lunged at her and began trying to kiss her. So in court, she said, no, no, no, I don't want this to happen. But she says he forced her into a bedroom where he got on top of her. She says he pushed me down. He held me by my arms and said, no, stay like that. And I said, no, no, and at that point started realizing what was actually happening, and I'm being raped. She says he performed oral sex on her. She said the whole time she was kicking and squirming. She asked him to stop. She says he continued.

KING: OK. So graphic and distressing testimony. Harvey Weinstein's defense team had an opportunity to respond. What did they say?

FRIEDMAN: They pointed out that Haley continued to interact with Weinstein. She actually described another sexual encounter that she said was unwanted but that she didn't physically resist. Haley and Weinstein also continued to email each other for years after the alleged assault. So the defense was able to use those emails to try to prove that no assault had happened, that the sex was consensual. They showed emails of her reaching out to ask for work, setting up meetings to pitch ideas. She also accepted an airline ticket and ended an email with the words lots of love. At one point, Weinstein's lawyer, Damon Cheronis, asked, isn't the reason you felt comfortable dealing with Harvey Weinstein and sending Harvey Weinstein emails because he never sexually assaulted you? So clearly an attempt by his defense to sow some doubt in the jury's mind.

KING: All right. And this trial continues. NPR's Rose Friedman reporting from New York. Rose, thanks so much.

FRIEDMAN: Thank you.

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