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Weinstein rape accuser faces further cross-examination

On Monday, the woman had become so upset while being questioned by the film mogul’s lawyers that the judge suspended her cross-examination.

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Harvey Weinstein arrives at court in New York (Richard Drew)

Harvey Weinstein arrives at court in New York (Richard Drew)

Harvey Weinstein arrives at court in New York (Richard Drew)

A woman who alleges that Harvey Weinstein raped her has returned to the witness box, a day after she became so upset while being questioned by the film mogul’s lawyers that the judge suspended her cross-examination.

The accuser began her third day of evidence with her composure restored.

Her answers were short and sombre, with none of the anguish she displayed on Monday, when she sobbed as she left the courtroom in New York.

Weinstein’s lawyers are continuing a painstaking review of emails and other evidence they say paint the 34-year-old as a manipulative liar who gritted her way through sexual encounters with Weinstein because she enjoyed the perks of knowing him.

One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Donna Rotunno, resumed her cross-examination by reading a portion of an email the woman wrote to a boyfriend where she suggested that her relationship with Weinstein had “validated” her in a way.

Donna Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, arrives arrives at court in New York
Donna Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, arrives at court in New York (Richard Drew/AP)

The lawyer then continued methodically confronting her with communications with Weinstein that followed the alleged assaults, including one where she asked, “What time are you free for a drink?” and another when she accepted an invitation from Weinstein to an Oscar viewing party in New York.

Weinstein is charged with raping the woman in a New York hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting former Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haleyi, who gave evidence earlier in the trial.

He has said any sexual encounters were consensual.

In the morning court session, jurors heard from another supporting witness, an actress who testified about allegedly being pressured by Weinstein into having an awkward three-way sexual encounter with him and the woman he is charged with raping.

Emanuela Postacchini, 28, was called to give evidence out of order over the objections of Weinstein’s lawyers, who argued the testimony was irrelevant because there is no evidence he forced himself on either woman on that occasion.

The timing of Ms Postacchini’s testimony came as a surprise because Weinstein’s lawyers have yet to finish their cross-examination of the rape accuser.

Prosecutors said they were calling Ms Postacchini first because she has been waiting to give evidence for two days and has to go to Los Angeles for a Wednesday audition.

Ms Postacchini testified that in February 2013, when she was 25, Weinstein had her meet him and the rape accuser at a hotel in Los Angeles, where he tried to persuade the women to have sex with him.

Ms Postacchini said that during the encounter, the woman Weinstein is charged with raping went into the bathroom and was “crying in the fetal position on the ground”.

On cross-examination, Weinstein’s lawyer Damon Cheronis repeatedly asked if Weinstein forced either woman to do anything and each time she responded that while she personally did not feel forced to do anything, “the situation was forced”.

Prosecutors are looking to counter a defence narrative that the accuser had a consensual relationship with Weinstein, in which she manipulated him through sexual encounters because she enjoyed the perks of knowing him.

The woman alleges Weinstein trapped her in a New York hotel room in March 2013, and angrily ordered her to undress as he loomed over her, and then raped her.

She alleges Weinstein, now 67, raped her again eight months later at a Beverly Hills hotel, where she worked as a hairdresser.

She said Weinstein attacked her after she told him she was dating an actor.

In allowing Ms Postacchini to take the stand, Judge James Burke ruled that prosecutors should limit their questioning to her observations of the other woman.

Testimony in the trial was suspended on Monday evening after the woman who has accused Weinstein of rape became emotional while reading an email passage about being abused earlier in her life.

It was part of a lengthy confessional email she sent to a boyfriend in 2014 about her relationship with Weinstein.

She said she continued seeing Weinstein and sending him flattering emails after the alleged rape in March 2013 because she did not want him to harm her fledgling career.

PA