Weinstein rape trial winds down with more defense witnesses

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives to Criminal Court during his sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., February 10, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 February 2020

Weinstein rape trial winds down with more defense witnesses

  • Lauren Marie Young testified that Claudia Salinas closed the door behind her and Weinstein as they went into the bathroom

NEW YORK: A Harvey Weinstein accuser testified that a woman did nothing to stop the once-powerful movie mogul from groping her in a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013. On Monday, that woman is set to offer her own account of the encounter.
Taking the witness stand at Weinstein’s New York City rape trial last week, Lauren Marie Young testified that Claudia Salinas, a Mexican model and actress, closed the door behind her and Weinstein as they went into the bathroom and “was standing right there” when Young managed to get out.
Young told the jury she shot Salinas “an evil look, and I left as quick as I could without saying anything.”
Salinas, now 38, is the latest defense witness in the fourth week of Weinstein’s rape trial, which could see closing arguments by the end of the week. She has appeared in several films, including in the 2009 Weinstein-produced “Crossing Over” with Harrison Ford.
Weinstein’s lawyers started Monday by calling to the witness stand the longtime manager of an apartment building where actress Annabella Sciorra alleges Weinstein barged through her door, pinned her to a bed and raped her in late 1993 or early 1994.
Nelson Lopez, the manager of the Gramercy Park building for the past 31 years, testified that he remembers Sciorra living there for about a year and that she never complained about anyone being allowed up to her apartment without permission.
He said that when visitors arrived to the building, the procedure was for doormen to call residents on an intercom and asked if the visitor was “allowed to go in, yes or no?” Lopez said. If there was no answer, the visitors would have been turned away, he said.
Lopez said the two night doormen from that era retired to Puerto Rico. Rejecting the suggestion that Weinstein could’ve paid the doorman off to look the other way, Lopez said none of his men would do such a thing.
Sciorra testified on Jan. 23 that Weinstein showed up at her apartment door after he gave her a ride home from a dinner with Uma Thurman and others in the entertainment industry. Sciorra said they’d already said their goodbyes outside the building and that she had changed into a nightgown and was getting ready for bed when she heard a knock on the door.
Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno questioned Sciorra on cross-examination about why she didn’t speak up when she says he first arrived at her apartment — why she didn’t ask why he was there or if the doorman had let him up.
Rotunno also questioned Sciorra’s behavior after the alleged assault, noting that she never went to the police, a doctor or a hospital and that she never sought out security footage of Weinstein entering her apartment building or got to the bottom of how he got past the doorman.
“At the time, I didn’t understand that that was rape,” Sciorra told the defense lawyer, who noted that based on her timeline of events she was 33 years old at the time.
Weinstein’s lawyers have said they also plan to call two friends of the woman he is charged with raping: a Hollywood talent agent and a Brazilian actress who lived with the woman in Los Angeles, who were on the March 2013 trip to New York City where she alleges Weinstein raped her at a midtown Manhattan hotel.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault, unless they come forward publicly.
Weinstein is charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in March 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a different woman in 2006. The 67-year-old Weinstein has maintained any sexual encounters were consensual.
The defense witnesses follow more than two weeks of prosecution testimony, including the accounts of six women who say Weinstein subjected them to vile sexual behavior.
Weinstein’s lawyers last week used a memory expert, cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, to try to cement doubts about the women’s allegations after cross-examinations that sought to highlight inconsistencies in some of their accounts. In some cases, the encounters the women were recalling happened a decade or longer ago.
False memories “can be experienced with a great deal of detail, a great deal of emotion, even though they’re false,” she told the jury. “The emotion is not a guarantee you’re dealing with an authentic memory.”
Weinstein’s lawyers haven’t said whether he will testify.
If he does, he faces the prospect of prosecutors grilling him over the allegations and could give them an opening to bring in more witnesses in an attempt to rebut anything he says.
“That is a question that does not have an answer at this point,” attorney Arthur Aidala said. “We want to see how our defense case goes.”


Healthy-looking people spread coronavirus, more studies say

Updated 01 April 2020

Healthy-looking people spread coronavirus, more studies say

  • Around 10% of new coronavirus infections may be sparked by people who were infected with the virus but did not experience symptoms
  • In the initial months of the pandemic, health officials based their response on the belief that most of the spread came from people who were sneezing or coughing

NEW YORK: More evidence is emerging that coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms, complicating efforts to gain control of the pandemic.
A study conducted by researchers in Singapore and published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday is the latest to estimate that around 10% of new coronavirus infections may be sparked by people who were infected with the virus but not experiencing symptoms.
In response to recent studies, the CDC changed how it was defining the risk of infection for Americans. The agency’s new guidance, also released Wednesday, targets people who have no symptoms but were exposed to persons with known or suspected infections. It essentially says that anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.
That reinforces the importance of social distancing and other measures designed to stop the spread, experts said.
“You have to really be proactive about reducing contacts between people who seem perfectly healthy,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, a University of Texas at Austin researcher who has studied coronavirus transmission in different countries.
The new study focused on 243 cases of coronavirus reported in Singapore from mid-January through mid-March, including 157 among people who hadn’t traveled.
Researchers found that so-called pre-symptomatic people triggered infections in seven different clusters of disease, accounting for about 6% of the locally-acquired cases.
An earlier study in Hubei province, China, where the virus was first identified, suggested that more than 10% of transmissions could have occurred before patients spreading the virus ever exhibited symptoms.
Researchers are also looking into the possibility that additional cases are triggered by “asymptomatic” people who are infected but never develop clear-cut symptoms, and “post-symptomatic” people who got sick, appear to be recovered, but may still be contagious.
It remains unclear how many new infections are caused by each type of these potential spreaders, said Meyers, who was not involved in the Singapore study but was part of an earlier one focused on China.
CDC officials say they’ve been researching asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic infections, but the studies are not complete.
In the initial months of the pandemic, health officials based their response on the belief that most of the spread came from people who were sneezing or coughing droplets that contained the virus.