LOS ANGELES — The second sex crimes trial of Harvey Weinstein is underway in Los Angeles and among the witnesses expected to testify is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker, former actress and the wife of California’s governor, Gavin Newsom.
Ms. Siebel Newsom is one of the many women who came forward to describe an encounter with Mr. Weinstein. Her involvement was confirmed on Monday by her lawyer, as jury selection began in a case where the once-powerful film producer faces four counts each of rape and forcible oral copulation.
Ms. Siebel Newsom, who was working as an actor and documentary filmmaker, wrote an essay for HuffPost in 2017 in which she mentioned a meeting with Mr. Weinstein during her earlier years in the industry. The article was published a day after The New York Times broke the news that he had paid off women accusing him of sexual misconduct for decades.
“I believe every word that was written in the New York Times, because very similar things happened to me,” read the headline on the essay.
Ms. Siebel Newsom, 48, described how she had received an invitation to meet with Mr. Weinstein at a hotel about a role in an upcoming film.
“I was naïve, new to the industry, and didn’t know how to deal with his aggressive advances,” she wrote.
“Staff were present and then all of a sudden disappeared like clockwork, leaving me alone with this extremely powerful and intimidating Hollywood legend.”
The experience, Ms. Siebel Newsom wrote, was one of many that inspired her 2011 documentary, “Miss Representation,” about how women are oversexualized in the media.
Mr. Weinstein, 70, faces 11 charges in a trial that is expected to last up to eight weeks. Included in those charges are one count of sexual penetration with a foreign object by force and two counts of sexual battery by restraint. The acts are said to have taken place between 2004 and 2013 in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, Calif., and involved five women. One of the women has been publicly identified as Lauren Young, a model and actress who testified at the New York trial in 2020 to show a pattern of abuse.
Mr. Weinstein was in the courtroom on Monday, arriving in a wheelchair before taking his seat. Also present was his longtime assistant, Barbara Schneeweiss, who is expected to testify.
“As Mr. Weinstein sits before you, he is innocent,” Judge Lisa B. Lench warned the pool of potential jurors, acknowledging the widespread media attention while explaining the burden of proof.
Opening statements are expected to take place in two weeks. It was not clear when Ms. Siebel Newsom, whose plans to testify in the case were first reported by The Los Angeles Times, would take the stand.
“Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein at a purported business meeting that turned out to be a trap,” her lawyer, Elizabeth Fegan, said in a statement. “She intends to testify at his trial in order to seek some measure of justice for survivors, and as part of her life’s work to improve the lives of women. Please respect her choice to not discuss this matter outside of the courtroom.”
The Los Angeles trial had initially been seen as a largely symbolic proceeding, since Mr. Weinstein was convicted in New York on charges of rape and criminal sexual assault and has 21 years left on his prison sentence. But in August, New York’s highest court granted him an appeal and raised the stakes for this second trial involving some different accusers.
Mr. Weinstein, who has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct, has denied all of the accusations, saying that he engaged in consensual sex. If he is convicted in California, he faces a life sentence.
Ms. Siebel Newsom was raised in Marin County and attended Stanford University, where she received her bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree in business administration. She married Mr. Newsom in 2008 while he was mayor of San Francisco.
In her posted essay, she had called for the movie mogul to be held accountable for his actions and for more people in power, particularly men, to speak up about the treatment of women in Hollywood and elsewhere.
“Let this really be the end of Harvey Weinstein and the Weinsteins of the world — no matter their wealth, no matter their power, no matter their privilege,” she wrote.
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