Dancer in Weinstein film testifies he sexually assaulted her

AP Entertainment Editor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A dancer in a Harvey Weinstein-produced film testified Thursday that she was “freaked out” after meeting the movie mogul on the Puerto Rican set, but her assistant’s presence and reassurance convinced her that it was OK to go with took her to her hotel, where she was later sexually assaulted.

The woman, who went by her first name and last initial Ashley M. during the Los Angeles trial where Weinstein is accused of rape and sexual assault, said she was 22 in 2003 when she acted as a dance double for one of the stars of “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” a film produced by Weinstein’s Miramax company.

She said Weinstein’s assistant at the time, Bonnie Hung, told her she would stay with them the whole time and he just wanted to talk about future plans.

As they walked down the hall of Weinstein’s hotel toward a door, she said, “I started to worry more, but Bonnie was there with her clipboard.”

“Harvey opened it, then he walked in and I walked in,” she said, stopping as she started to cry. “And then Bonnie closed the door behind us. I was like, ‘oh no, what am I doing?’

She said Weinstein quickly became aggressive, pushing her onto the bed and taking off her top before straddling her and masturbating while on top of her, despite telling him to stop .

The woman was Weinstein’s second accuser to take the stand at the trial, and the first of four who are not implicated in the charges against him but are allowed to testify to show a propensity for such acts on Weinstein’s part. .

Judge Lisa B. Lench told jurors ahead of the woman’s testimony that they would receive instructions later on how to examine her.

Weinstein, already serving a 23-year sentence for a New York conviction that is under appeal, pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles to four counts of rape and seven other counts of sexual assault. He has repeatedly denied having non-consensual sex.

Ashley M. appeared shaken as she walked into the booth late Thursday afternoon and started crying before questions were asked.

“I’m sorry,” she repeatedly told Judge Lisa Lench, who replied that she had nothing to regret and asked for a short break.

She gathered herself together and began her testimony, saying she had been a professional ballet dancer who had just transitioned into dancing in Hollywood.

She said Weinstein appeared on set while they were filming in a ballroom and asked her out.

Ashley M. said Weinstein talked about her giving her a nude massage, and she tried to appease him by saying she was engaged and needed on set.

She said Weinstein told her he was the boss and had to decide who should be on set.

The woman called her mother and then-fiancé, who told her to ask others on set for help.

Then someone said it was time for a meal break.

“I thought, ‘phew, saved by the bell,'” she testified.

During the break, she asked the film’s choreographer and a producer what to do, but felt they didn’t want to upset Weinstein.

“Did any of them help you in any way?” asked Assistant District Attorney Marlene Martinez.

“No,” Ashley M. said.

“How did you feel then?” Martinez asked.

“Scared,” replied the witness.

Ashley M. said that when he returned to set, Weinstein was waiting for him with a limo and Hung.

“I felt better just knowing I wasn’t alone,” she said.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they have come forward publicly.

Ashley M. told her story to The New York Times in October 2017, when the newspaper’s accounts of women who say Weinstein sexually assaulted them put the director at the center of the #MeToo movement.

Thursday was the first time she told her story in a courtroom.

Ashley M. is expected to return to the witness box for further questioning by prosecutors on Friday, followed by cross-examination by Weinstein’s defense.


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