Woman says Weinstein yelled, ‘You owe me!’ before raping her

Film producer Harvey Weinstein departs New York Criminal Court after his sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Jan. 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
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Updated 01 February 2020

Woman says Weinstein yelled, ‘You owe me!’ before raping her

  • The 34-year-old woman’s testimony is a pivotal moment in the rape case against Harvey Weinstein
  • A conviction could put the once-powerful movie producer behind bars for the rest of his life

NEW YORK: A key accuser in Harvey Weinstein’s trial testified Friday that he raped her twice, once bellowing, “You owe me!” as he dragged her into a bedroom.
The first time, the heavyset Hollywood tycoon 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 told jurors.
Still, she kept in touch, sending him flattering emails, because “his ego was so fragile,” she said, and it “made me feel safe, worshipping him in this sense. … I wanted to be perceived as innocent and naive.”
Then, eight months later at a Los Angeles hotel where she worked as a hairdresser, she told Weinstein that she was dating an actor, she said.
“You owe me one more time!” he screamed, she told jurors. She said she begged him not to take off her clothes, but he said, “I don’t have time for games” and ripped off her pants before pushing her legs apart and raping her.
Afterward, she said, she crawled into the bathroom, her eyes red and swollen from tears, and worried that he’d get angry if he knew she was crying.
“OK, now go have your relationship,” he told her, according to her testimony. His apology: “I just find you so attractive, I couldn’t resist.”
The 34-year-old woman’s testimony, which is set to continue Monday,is a pivotal moment in the rape case against the once-powerful movie producer who became one of the #MeToo movement’s top targets. He is charged in New York with the March 2013 rape and also sexually assaulting Mimi Haleyi, a former “Project Runway” production assistant, in 2006. A conviction could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
Weinstein, 67, has insisted that any sexual encounters were consensual. His lawyers aim to raise doubts about the rape accuser’s credibility by seizing on her complicated history with the former film producer.
The defense says the woman sent Weinstein warm emails that said things like “Miss you, big guy.” Not once, in more than 400 messages between the two, did the woman accuse Weinstein of harming her, his lawyers have said.
Asked by a prosecutor to describe Weinstein’s body, the woman said that when she first saw him naked, she noticed “extreme scarring” on his stomach and thought he had characteristics of both male and female genitalia.
“When I first saw him, I was filled with compassion, absolute compassion,” she said, adding, “It seemed his anger came from a place of pain.”
As he left the courtroom, Weinstein was asked if the description of body was accurate.
“Yeah, perfect,” he said, sarcastically. One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Arthur Aidala, said it wasn’t accurate.
Asked why she didn’t break off contact with Weinstein at the first sign of trouble, the woman testified she didn’t want to offend him. But defense lawyer Donna Rotunno asked whether it was really because the woman “wanted to benefit from the power he had.”
The woman responded that her relationship with the then-married Weinstein was more complicated than that.
The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of sexual assault accusers without their consent. It is withholding name of the rape accuser because it isn’t clear if she wishes to be identified publicly.
The woman testified that she met Weinstein at a party in late 2012 or early 2013 after she moved from Washington state to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
The producer behind such Oscar-winning films as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction” offered to help her, she said, asking her to meet him at a bookstore to learn about movie-business history.
“I thought it was a blessing,” she said.
Later, what she thought was a professional dinner at a Los Angeles hotel ended up in his suite, she testified. She said she thought Weinstein just wanted to avoid public attention, but he pressured her into giving him a massage on the bed with his shirt off.
At another point, he invited her and friend to a hotel suite to give them a script after telling them he wanted to cast them in a vampire film, the woman said.
“Oh, no. I know what that means,’’ she said she told him. “And he laughed at me and said, ‘I am a harmless old man.’”
Weinstein started undressing, went into a bedroom and called for her. When she went to find out what he wanted, he grabbed her arm, closed the door and started “trying to kiss me like crazy,” she said.
She said she tussled with him, and he grew increasingly angry and said: “I’m not letting you leave until I do something for you.” He then performed oral sex on her, she told jurors, her voice breaking.
She said she feigned orgasm to extricate herself from the encounter but later started having “non-forcible” oral sex with Weinstein.
“I was confused after what happened and I made a decision to be in a relationship with him,” she said. While she wasn’t sexually attracted to Weinstein, she felt compassion for him and wanted his approval, she added.
But the relationship quickly turned “degrading,”she said. Weinstein could be charming, but “if he heard the word `no,’ it was like a trigger for him,” she said.
The first rape happened after she agreed to meet Weinstein for breakfast with friends, she said. She was upset when he checked into a New York hotel where she was staying, she said, but she accompanied him to his room to tell him off in private.
Instead, the producer held the door shut, barked at her to undress and “stood over me until I was completely naked,” she told jurors.
Then he went into another room, emerged naked and raped her, she testified. Afterward in a bathroom, she found a needle in a trash can, she said, and believed, after some research, that he had injected himself with an erection-inducing drug.


You’ve got mail: Writer of mystery letters in Jeddah revealed

Updated 02 April 2020

You’ve got mail: Writer of mystery letters in Jeddah revealed

  • She leaves notes all over Jeddah to be picked up by strangers

JEDDAH: Ever wondered what it is like to find an uplifting letter from a stranger? If you are in Jeddah, then you are in luck as you might pass by and pick up a letter in a public area titled: “If you find me, I’m yours.”

These random acts of kindness were devised by an initiative called Garba’at Rasayl, Hejazi slang for “a mess of letters.” The group was created by 23-year-old Saudi freelance graphic designer Hadeel Felemban.

The simple white envelopes are covered in stickers and magazine cutouts. Felemban said letter-writing helps her express her thoughts and feelings while sharing it with the world, one letter at a time.

“Mess happens every time I write paper letters, a mess of words and feelings, a mess of scraps and colors used to decorate the envelope,” she told Arab News.

The act of writing letters is special to her as it brings a sense of connection to her father — who worked at the Saudi Post Office more than 20 years ago — and revives the exchange of letters in a world filled with technology. The initiative holds monthly meetings in different cities, where attendees gather to write letters to strangers.

“My father passed away when I was two, and the only way I knew him was through the stories my mother and his brothers share about him. I would write to him on my phone’s notepad sometimes, but I wanted something other than our names to connect us.”

The discovery of her late father’s stamp collection from different periods in her home two years ago prompted her to start the initiative.

“It was like finding a treasure. And ever since then, I’ve been looking for ways to reuse them and revive paper mail. I realized that in a period different than his, I became a mail carrier just like him.”

Felemban shared her interest in sending traditional mail on Instagram. She was able to send letters to some who responded, but she did not receive any in return.

“The waiting was suffocating, I felt devastated and I blame that we are not used to the mailing system and its hardship,” she said.

One night, she decided to write a letter and leave the envelopes in public places.

“Writing a letter to a stranger is probably the best solution to killing the unknown wait from the other party.”

She decorated the envelope of the message, and left it in a cafe in Jeddah without any contact information. “Then I found myself monitoring the cafe’s account on social media, and was disappointed yet again. I didn’t know what had happened to the letter, was it thrown away, picked up or neglected?”

In a family gathering in early October, Felemban placed her stationery supplies and envelopes on the dining table, ready to write a new letter. Her cousins and mother were curious and joined her.

“I was so happy to include them. I complained to them about the waiting and not knowing if the letter was abandoned.”

Her family members suggested creating a special tag for the letters so that strangers who received the letters could reach out to her.

“I created the Arabic hashtag for ‘mess of letters’ and created a post for my friends in Riyadh — where I was at the time — and asked them if they wanted to gather to write letters together. I received a lot of positive responses and then prepared for the event in one of the cafes in the city.”

She hosted the first gathering on Oct. 25 and was happy to see how the simple gesture of uplifting messages had an impact on her community.

“During exam week back when I was studying, it was such a mentally exhausting time, and I used to write encouraging words and quotes for myself and the visitors of the cafe I usually go to. I noticed they had a great impact on emotional well-being. I held on to that idea by writing letters to strangers in public places.”

This simple act of kindness from one stranger to another can go a long way toward making a difference in someone’s life.