LOS ANGELES – A woman testified Monday that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the 1991 Toronto Film Festival, and then did it again when she confronted him 17 years later at the same hotel during the same festival.
Kelly Sipherd told a Los Angeles jury that she was a 24-year-old aspiring actress at the 1991 festival and didn’t know who Weinstein was until she met him at a party. She said her friends there were smitten with the man whose Miramax company had risen to the forefront of independent film and made a name for itself at the Oscars.
Sipherd said she was initially charmed by Weinstein as they discussed books and films.
“We got along very well,” she said. “He was very intelligent. We had a wonderful conversation.”
The Associated Press does not normally credit people who say they were sexually abused, but Sipherd agreed Monday to be identified through her attorney.
She said the two left the party for a glass of wine at a nearby coffee shop, then took him to his room at the Four Seasons Hotel because he said he had a script for a film with a role that him would be perfect for that.
Once there, he went to the bathroom and came out wearing only an open shirt and a hot washcloth, Sipherd testified.
“It all happened very, very, very quickly,” she said. “I was shocked. It was so unexpected.”
She said he took off her skirt, put the washcloth on her and told her, “My wife loves this.”
She testified that she felt “nauseous, scared, scared” and repeatedly told him to stop and asked, “What are you doing?”
She said he held her down and sexually assaulted her with his mouth and hand. He then climbed on top of her and started raping her, but she was able to sneak away and leave the room.
Sipherd testified that in the weeks that followed, Weinstein repeatedly called her home and often hung up on her, but eventually spoke to him.
“The encounter you describe sounds horrific,” Jackson’s attorney, Alan Jackson, told Sipherd during his cross-examination, saying Weinstein appeared to be someone to avoid at all costs. “But you didn’t go the other way, cross the street or spit on him, you actually took his calls.”
Sipherd eventually accepted an offer from him to come to New York and speak to a woman who does auditions for him, but took with him a friend who planned to keep her by her side constantly.
“Your rapist convincingly tried to get you to come with him to see him in New York?” he asked. Sipherd replied, “Yes.”
In New York, she said Weinstein called her in her hotel room from the lobby and told her to get rid of her boyfriend and he would come up. She refused and left New York without seeing him or the casting agent.
Weinstein, 70, who has already served a 23-year sentence in New York, has pleaded not guilty to and denied 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving five women in Los Angeles for engaging in non-consensual sex.
He will not be charged with the alleged assaults described in Monday’s testimony. Sipherd is allowed to testify with three others so prosecutors can try to show Weinstein’s involvement in the crimes he is charged with.
Sipherd testified that she did not see Weinstein again until 2008, when she was 41 and temporarily living at the Four Seasons with her husband and children. During this year’s festival, she met Weinstein in the lobby.
“My blood kind of stopped,” she said. “I was very angry.”
When Weinstein’s assistant came into her room to say he wanted to meet her, she agreed.
“I wanted to confront him,” she said. “I felt like I was ready to give it to him.”
Once in his room, she recalled asking him, “How does it feel to be standing in front of the one woman who said no to you?”
Weinstein then dismissed his assistant from the room and quickly ushered her to a door. She said before she knew it, she was in a locked bathroom with Weinstein, where he blocked her way out.
She said Weinstein grabbed her breasts and masturbated in front of her before letting her leave the room.
Jackson said it sounded like Weinstein “politely” escorted her to the bathroom.
She replied that she didn’t know she was being led to the bathroom.
“You didn’t see the sink, the vanity, the mirror?” Jackson asked.
“It was dark,” she replied.
“So you went into a dark room with him?” Jackson said.
Jackson then asked why she hadn’t gone or made a greater effort to raise the alarm.
“You’re alone with that rapist for the second time and you didn’t yell?” he asked.
“I was embarrassed and shocked,” Sipherd said.
Sipherd said she didn’t tell anyone about the second attack for years because it was “just embarrassing” that it was happening again.
“I was in shock,” she said. “So embarrassing, just so embarrassing.”
Her statement appears to be the first time she has told her story publicly.
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