You've got to be a special sort of cynic to want to represent Harvey Weinstein in court, and one shining gem of an attorney asked the wife of California's governor to fake an orgasm on the stand on Tuesday.
The line of questioning is, at base, already gross. A defense attorney for Weinstein, Mark Werksman, was cross-examining Jennifer Siebel Newsom in the Los Angeles rape trial on Tuesday, essentially trying to discredit her story that Weinstein arranged to get her alone in a hotel room in 2005 and force himself on her sexually — a story that many, many women have corroborated as exactly what happened to them. As the Daily Beast reports, Werksman's point was to question how Siebel Newsom "indicated pleasure" during the encounter — saying that Siebel Newsom implied she'd faked an orgasm and therefore it must have been consensual.
"Do you understand the paradox of trying to stop a rapist by faking an orgasm?" Werksman asked.
Siebel Newsom had testified, per the Daily Beast, that Weinstein "began to touch himself before engaging in a brutal 'cat-and-mouse' game that included his penetrating her with his 'fish-like' and 'messed-up' penis, digitally penetrating her, and orally assaulting her. The whole assault, she said, made her feel like 'this blow-up doll that he’s just trying to masturbate off of.'"
Werksman's question about "indicating pleasure" left Siebel Newsom looking "horrified," as TMZ reports.
"It was not long. This is not When Harry Met Sally. I'm not doing that," Siebel Newsom said on the stand, per TMZ, referring to the famous Meg Ryan diner scene. She then reportedly broke down in tears and said, "I was making noises to get him to finish. He had already raped me. … This is so gross. I'm sorry."
Reactions have been swift on social media, with former Chronicle columnist Carla Marinucci writing on Twitter, "Unreal" and someone replying, "Defense just lost every woman on the jury."
Unreal: @JenSiebelNewsom, wife to California gov, asked to fake an orgasm in court during Harvey Weinstein trial by Weinstein's lawyer.— Carla ‘Bluechecked’ Marinucci (@cmarinucci) November 16, 2022
An upset Siebel Newsom retorted: “This is not ‘When Harry Met Sally.’ I’m not doing that.” https://t.co/q1jziweVNb via @nypost
Siebel Newsom has said in the past and at this trial that Weinstein lured her to what she thought was a business meeting about her career at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in 2005. Echoing stories told by many other actresses who had similar encounters with Weinstein, all of his assistants quickly left them alone, and Siebel Newsom said Weinstein picked her up and carried her to the bed, where he grabbed her breasts and forced oral copulation on her.
When questioned by a prosecutor in the case as to why she did not try to leave the hotel room immediately, Siebel Newsom said, "Because you don’t say no to Harvey Weinstein. He could make or ruin your career."
In opening statements three weeks ago, Werksman began the mud-slinging at Governor Newsom's wife by suggesting that if she hadn't married Newsom, "She’d be just another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead."
The defense has questioned why Siebel Newsom came forward with her story when she did in 2017, and why she only offered to speak to detectives then.
"I offered to talk to detectives initially to support other women, not to be up here on the witness stand," Siebel Newsom replied, per the Daily Beast, before tearing up again.
Werksman further tried to question statements Siebel Newsom said in her testimony about putting the incident in mental box over time, and only recently beginning to rehash it in greater detail.
"But as you pulled memories out of the box, you changed them,” Werksman said, per the Daily Beast.
"Sir, he assaulted me," Siebel Newsom replied.
Werksman has further tried to discredit Siebel Newsom by showing jurors emails she sent to Weinsten over the next 18 months, including one in which she thanked him for an Oscar party invitation for her and a friend in which she said, "We had such a fun time."
As the New York Post reports, Siebel Newsom, who was a struggling actress at the time, responded on the stand, "I was just hustling."
Siebel Newsom is one of four women set to testify in this, Weinstein's second sex-crimes trial. In Los Angeles, he faces seven counts of assault against the four women, and a fifth victim has recently dropped out of the case. He was previously convicted in New York State in 2020 and sentenced to 23 years in prison, a sentence that was recently upheld on appeal.
Top image: Governor Gavin Newsom (R) and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom arrive during the 13th Annual California Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The California Museum on December 10, 2019 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)