WARNING: This article contains references to sexual abuse and may affect those who have experienced abuse or know someone who has.
A woman testified on Monday that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the 1991 Toronto International Film Festival, then did it again when she went to confront him in the same hotel at the same festival 17 years later.
Kelly Sipherd told a Los Angeles jury that she was a 24-year-old aspiring actress at the 1991 festival and didn’t know who Weinstein was until she met him at a party.
She said her friends there were abuzz about the man whose company Miramax had risen to the forefront of independent filmmaking and made its mark at the Oscars.
Sipherd said she was first charmed by Weinstein as they discussed books and movies.
“We got along really well,” she said. “He was very smart. We had a wonderful conversation.”
The Associated Press does not usually name people who say they have been sexually abused, but Sipherd agreed Monday through his attorney to be named.
She said they both left the party for a glass of wine at a nearby cafe and then went with him to his room at the Four Seasons hotel because he said he had a script for a movie with a role that would be perfect for her.
Once there, she said he went into the bathroom and came out wearing only an open shirt and holding a warm washcloth, Sipherd testified.
“It all happened very, very, very quickly,” she said. “I was in shock. It was so unexpected.”
She said he took off her skirt, put the washcloth on her and said “my wife loves it”.
She testified that she felt “nauseous, scared, terrified” and repeatedly told him to stop and asked him “what are you doing?”
She said he held her down and sexually assaulted her with his mouth and hand. He then climbed on top of her and began to rape her, but she managed to slip away and leave the room.
Sipherd testified that Weinstein called her several times at her home over the next few weeks and that she often hung up, but eventually spoke to him.
“The encounter you’re describing sounds horrible,” Jackson’s attorney Alan Jackson told Sipherd during cross-examination, saying Weinstein seemed like someone you’d cross the street to avoid at all costs. . “But you didn’t walk the other way or cross the street or spit on him, you actually took his phone calls.”
Sipherd eventually accepted an offer from him to come to New York and talk to a woman who does casting for him, but took on a friend with the intention of keeping her by his side constantly.
“Your rapist was persuasive in trying to get you to come with him to see him in New York?” He asked. Sipherd replied “yes”.
In New York, she said Weinstein called her to her hotel room from the lobby and told her to get rid of her friend and he was coming. She refused and left New York without ever seeing him or the casting agent.
Weinstein not charged
Already serving a 23-year sentence in New York, Weinstein, 70, pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving five women in Los Angeles and denied having non-consensual sex.
He is not charged with the alleged assaults described in Monday’s testimony. Sipherd, along with three others, are allowed to testify so prosecutors can try to show Weinstein’s propensity for the crimes he is accused of.
Sipherd testified that she didn’t see Weinstein again until 2008, when she was 41 and living temporarily at the Four Seasons with her husband and children. She met Weinstein in the lobby during the festival that year.
“My blood kind of stopped,” she said. “I was very angry.”
When Weinstein’s aide came to her room to say he wanted to meet her, she agreed.
“I wanted to face him,” she said. “I felt like I was ready to give it to him.”
Once in her room, she remembered asking, “How does it feel to be in front of the only woman who said no to you?”
Weinstein then dismissed his assistant from the room and quickly guided her to a doorway. She said before she knew it she was in a locked bathroom with Weinstein, where he blocked her way out.
She said Weinstein grabbed her breasts and masturbated in front of her before letting her leave the room.
“I was mortified and in shock”
Jackson said it looked like Weinstein “escorted” her into the bathroom “politely.”
She replied that she did not know that she was being taken to the bathroom. Jackson asked why she didn’t leave or why she didn’t try harder to sound the alarm.
“You find yourself for the second time alone with this rapist and you didn’t shout?” He asked.
“I was mortified and in shock,” Sipherd said.
Sipherd said she didn’t tell anyone about the second assault for years out of “sheer embarrassment” that it happened again.
“I was in shock,” she said. “So embarrassed, so embarrassed.”
Her testimony appears to be the first time she has told her story in public.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Canadian Association for the Elimination of Violence Database. If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety or the safety of those around you, please call 911.
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