Two women who say they met Harvey Weinstein when they were aspiring actresses in their 20s testified at his rape trial that the one-time Hollywood titan preyed on their dreams of stardom to sexually assault them.
Dawn Dunning told jurors that Weinstein put his hand up her skirt and fondled her genitals during what was supposed to be a 2004 meeting about her fledgling career and later tried trading movie roles for three-way sex with him and his assistant.
She said Weinstein claimed the lewd offer was the kind of thing that happened all the time in the film business and that he mentioned the names of several big stars in hopes of convincing her to do it.
Tarale Wulff testified that Weinstein raped her at his New York City apartment after luring her there in 2005 with promises of an audition for a film role.
Wulff choked back tears as she described the much larger Weinstein grabbing her by the arm, pushing her onto a bed and spurning her pleas to stop with reassurances that she shouldn’t worry because he’d had a vasectomy.
Wulff, now 43 and a model, said she froze as he continued, thinking that would make it “easier to get through, to get past it.”
Wulff and Dunning’s allegations against Weinstein are not part of the underlying criminal charges against him, but their testimony could be a factor in whether he goes to prison at the end of his landmark #MeToo-era trial.
Prosecutors called them as witnesses under a state law that allows testimony about so-called “prior bad acts,” enabling them to explore things like motive, opportunity, intent and a common scheme or plan. In this case, prosecutors allege that Weinstein has long used the promise of career advancement to take advantage of young, vulnerable women.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on Mimi Haleyi, at the time a ‘Project Runway’ production assistant, in 2006 and raping another aspiring actress in 2013. That woman could testify later this week.
Weinstein has insisted any sexual encounters were consensual.
The jury has already heard from Haleyi, who tearfully testified that she tried to fight off Weinstein before he sexually assaulted her, and actress Annabella Sciorra, who testified last week that he overpowered and raped her after barging into her apartment in the mid-1990s.