NEW YORK: At times sobbing, former production assistant Mimi Haleyi told jurors Monday at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial how she tried to fight off the disgraced movie mogul and told him “no, no, no” while he sexually assaulted her.
“I did reject him, but he insisted,” said Haleyi, whose allegations against Weinstein led to his charges and trial. “Every time I tried to get off the bed he would push me back and hold me down.” Haleyi testified she thought: “I’m being raped” and considered different options. “If I scream rape, will someone hear me?” she said before she “checked out”.
“I couldn’t get away from him at all, let alone get away,” Haleyi said. “I checked out and decided to endure it. That was the safest thing I could do.” Weinstein, 67, is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on Haleyi in his New York City apartment in 2006 and raping another woman, an aspiring actress, in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. He insists any sexual encounters were consensual.
The 42-year-old Haleyi, whose legal name is Miriam Haley, is the first of the two women whose accusations are at the heart of the charges against Weinstein to take the stand at the closely watched #MeToo-era trial, which is in its fourth day of testimony.
Last week, ‘Sopranos’ actress Annabella Sciorra testified that Weinstein overpowered and raped her after barging into her apartment in the mid-1990s. While outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges, Sciorra’s allegations could be a factor as prosecutors look to prove Weinstein has engaged in a pattern of predatory behaviour.
Haleyi went public with her allegations at an October 2017 news conference, appearing in front of cameras alongside lawyer Gloria Allred, who also represents Sciorra and other Weinstein accusers.
Haleyi, born in England and raised in Sweden, said she met Weinstein while in her 20s at the 2004 London premiere of the Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘The Aviator’. They crossed paths again at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and, when she expressed interest in working on one of his productions, he invited her to his hotel room and asked for a massage.
She declined, saying she felt “extremely humiliated”. “I felt stupid because I was so excited to go see him and he treated me that way,” she testified. More meetings followed, and Weinstein secured Haleyi a job helping on the set of ‘Project Runway’, the reality competition show he produced. She testified that before the alleged assault, Weinstein showed up at her apartment and begged her to join him a trip to Paris for a fashion show.
“At one point, because I just didn’t know how to shut it down so to speak…So I said, ‘You know you have a terrible reputation with women, I’ve heard,'” Haleyi said. The then-revered Hollywood honcho “got offended”, she said. “He stepped back and said, ‘What have you heard?'”
Asked by prosecutor Meghan Hast if she had any romantic or sexual interest in Weinstein, Haleyi firmly answered: “Not at all, no.” The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault, unless they agree to be named as Haleyi and Sciorra have.
In testifying, Haleyi will have to deal with a defense team that said it plans to confront Weinstein’s accusers with their own words messages they exchanged with Weinstein well after the alleged assaults. Weinstein’s lawyers argue the positive-sounding emails and texts call into question the accusers’ accounts.
The jury of seven men and five women also heard testimony from Dr Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist who said that most sex assault victims continue to have contact with their attackers, often under threat of retaliation if the victims tell anyone what happened.
Some of Haleyi’s messages were made public last year when Weinstein’s lawyers sought to get his case dismissed. One sent to Weinstein’s phone in 2007 reads: “Hi! Just wondering if u have any news on whether Harvey will have time to see me before he leaves? X Miriam.” AP