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Harvey Weinstein leaves State Supreme Court in New York, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Image Credit: AP

New York: Lauren Young was a model from New York City who wrote screenplays and wanted to break into the film business when she had a stroke of luck: She met a woman who had a direct line to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The woman, Claudia Salinas, contacted Young in February 2013 and told her to bring a script to a meeting with Weinstein at a hotel bar in Beverly Hills, California.

She was only 22.

"I was excited," Young said as she testified at Weinstein's rape trial Wednesday. "I got ready and I put on my best dress. I was excited to network and pitch my ideas."

But prosecutors said the meeting was a ruse. Young told authorities that the producer trapped her in a bathroom of a hotel room, groped one of her breasts, masturbated and ejaculated.

Sixth woman to accuse Weinstein

Young began testifying in state Supreme Court in Manhattan in the late morning.

She is the sixth woman to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault at the trial, and her testimony is expected to be one of the last pieces of evidence the Manhattan district attorney's office presents before resting its case.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts, including rape, criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Young is also one of two accusers in a criminal complaint filed against Weinstein by prosecutors in Los Angeles.

The charges in the criminal indictment in Manhattan stem from allegations made by two women: Jessica Mann, who said the producer raped her in a Manhattan hotel in 2013, and Miriam Haley, who said he forced oral sex on her at his home in 2006. The account from a third woman, Annabella Sciorra, the actress who has accused him of raping her in 1993, is meant to support a predatory sexual assault charge.

Prosecutors in New York won permission to call Young and two other women - Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff - to testify about the way that Weinstein allegedly attacked them to establish a pattern of behavior. He was not charged with crimes in the Dunning and Wulff cases because they were too old to prosecute.

The trial is one of the most closely watched proceedings in recent history, seen by many as a critical moment in the #MeToo movement, the global reckoning prompted in October 2017 after several women went public with allegations that Weinstein had sexually harassed or assaulted them.

No evidence, only testimonies

In the New York case against Weinstein, prosecutors do not have any physical or forensic evidence to support the women's allegations. In Los Angeles, prosecutors have obtained Young's dress, which will likely be tested for the producer's DNA, lawyers said in court. Young told prosecutors that two days ago, she found the dress she wore that night.

Young said she met Salinas, a Mexican model, at a dinner during Oscars season in 2012 at the Restaurant at Mr. C in Beverly Hills. The women exchanged contact information, she said.

A year later, Young said Salinas reached out to set up a meeting with Weinstein. They agreed on Feb. 19, 2013, and met at a bar in the lobby of the Montage Beverly Hills, a luxury hotel. Weinstein, she said, showed up 10 minutes later.

Young said she quickly started discussing her ideas and script, but Weinstein appeared distracted: He was on his phone. "He was not really paying attention to me," she said, "and kind of kept pushing off everything."

Suddenly, Weinstein said he had to prepare for an event with director Quentin Tarantino and told the women to follow him to a suite at the hotel, Young said. On the way there, she said, Weinstein asked if she was interested in appearing on "America's Next Top Model," but she declined, saying she preferred acting.

Once they entered the room, "I kept walking, following Harvey," Young said. "I walked in through the bedroom and into the bathroom." She said she did not realize she had walked into a bathroom.

"I started realizing: I'm trapped"

Young said that in a mirror, she could see Salinas shut the bathroom door, trapping her. Weinstein then blocked Young from exiting by opening a shower door, she said. Weinstein turned on the water, quickly undressed and stepped in and out of the shower.

Young said she began laughing nervously.

"I just couldn't believe what was happening to me," Young said, her voice cracking. "I was really worried and scared that they were going to hurt me or something. I started realizing: I'm trapped."

Young said Weinstein unzipped her dress, pulling it down. She said when she tried to leave, Weinstein said, "No, we are just going to have a talk here. How am I going to know if you can act?"

"I said, 'No, no, no,' the whole time," she said. "I was not interested."

The producer, she said, started masturbating, gripping and pinching her breast and squinting at her as she was pushed up against the sink. At some point, she said, he tried to touch her genitals.

He ejaculated into a towel, she said, and then exited the bathroom.

"I stayed standing there in shock," Young said, adding that she left as quick as she could.

Prosecutors asked Young to describe the producer's body, and her statements - that his genitals looked abnormal and scarred - echoed the testimony of Mann. The jury of seven men and five women has been shown pictures of Weinstein in the nude, and the testimony about his appearance is being used by prosecutors to corroborate the women's accounts.

Young told two friends about the alleged incident but did not report it to police, prosecutors said. "He has power," she said. "I was scared."

The next day

The next day, Young kept a previously scheduled meeting with Weinstein's assistant at the Weinstein Company office in Los Angeles. She said she intended to confront Weinstein, but he was not there.

The assistant, Barbara Schneeweiss, was not interested in her script but urged her to consider a part on "America's Next Top Model." After that meeting, Young said, she ignored calls from Schneeweiss and another Weinstein Co. employee.

"I didn't want anything to do with any of them," she said.

One of Weinstein's lawyers, Damon Cheronis, highlighted discrepancies between Young's testimony and the accounts she had provided to investigators in Los Angeles and New York.

He pointed out she had told investigators that Salinas pushed her in the bathroom and locked the door, but in her testimony she said neither happened. Her description of Weinstein's body also differed slightly from what she told investigators in 2018. She also had told investigators her dress fell to the floor but testified in court it was pulled down to her elbows, he said.

Cheronis also pressed Young on why she could not recall the date of the alleged assault or whether the bathroom door was locked. "I confused it when I was telling my story," she said.

The lawyer suggested it was implausible that Weinstein could disrobe and shower without giving her a chance to escape the bathroom.

"This big fat man does a ninja tear-off of his clothes, right?" Cheronis asked.

Young said, "Never said ninja."