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Harvey Weinstein trial: Defense witnesses dispute accusers' accounts



In New York Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday, Maia was asked to recall the first time she and Mann, 34, met Weinstein — at a swanky Los Angeles engagement party.

“She put her arm around him and pinched his cheek,” Maia testified, adding that Mann said he was “so cute.”

Mann’s testimony described a “manipulative” long-term relationship with Weinstein that involved regular in-person interactions and consensual sex. Dozens of emails between them over five years depict an ongoing flirtation.

Prosecutors say Weinstein forced sex on Mann at a DoubleTree Hotel in Manhattan on March 18, 2013.

“Did [Weinstein] ever force her to do anything against her will?” defense lawyer Donna Rotunno asked Maia, a Brazilian-born actress, on direct examination.

“No,” Maia testified. “She spoke very highly of him. She seemed to really like him as a person.”

On one occasion, the three of them met for a drink in the lobby of the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills, Maia recalled, and when Weinstein and Mann asked her to come upstairs with them, she felt “super uncomfortable.” Maia had driven Mann to the hotel and was expecting to give her a ride home.

“I don’t want to go to a room with them. I don’t know what they were going to do,” Maia recalled thinking.

Maia went with them to the suite, and when they got to the room, Weinstein and Mann went into the bedroom for about 10 minutes, Maia recalled. She watched TV while waiting for her friend.

“It was pretty clear to me what was going on,” Maia said.

Mann testified that Harvey once forced oral sex on her while Maia was in the other room. Mann said she told Weinstein a lie thatit was the “best” she’d ever had, and claimed she told Maia about the lie. Maia she doesn’t remember hearing about what went on in the room but said Mann did not seem upset or bothered afterward.

Maia and Mann had a falling out in 2016. Mann was set to be a bridesmaid in Maia’s wedding and Weinstein was invited as Mann’s plus-one. Both were disinvited before the event, Maia said.

Weinstein’s legal team also called Mexican actress and fashion influencer Claudia Salinas. Earlier in the trial, another accuser, Lauren Young, blamed Salinas for setting her up to be “trapped” in a hotel suite bathroom with Weinstein.

Young testified as a supporting witness in the case, saying Weinstein forcibly groped her in the bathroom while he masturbated. Young is officially part of a criminal case against Weinstein pending in Los Angeles, for the same alleged incident she testified about last week.

On Monday, Salinas denied ever walking into a hotel room with Young and Weinstein.

“Do ever recall walking down that hallway behind Lauren Young as Mr. Weinstein was in front of her?” defense attorney Damon Cheronis asked, pointing to a picture of the Montage suite Young identified as the alleged crime scene.

“No, that never happened,” Salinas said.

Cheronis also asked if she was “sure” she didn’t close the door of the bathroom after watching Young and Weinstein enter — as Young testified she did.

“I’m very sure,” Salinas said. “I would never do that. I’ve never closed the door behind anybody ever.” (Young testified that she shot an “evil look” to Salinas as she left the room in shock.)

Salinas was asked whether Weinstein had ever been inappropriate with her. She said he came onto her when they first met but she brushed him off.

When asked by prosecutor Meghan Hast whether she recruited women for Weinstein, Salinas said she “didn’t” but that “he met some of my friends because I would always come [to parties] with a friend.”

“He always said please bring your good-looking friends,” Salinas said.

When Hast asked the career model if she brought her “pretty, better-looking” pals to meet the producer, Salinas drew laughs from the gallery when she responded, “All my friends are good-looking!”

Both Maia and Salinas were subpoenaed by the defense to testify.

Weinstein, 67, whose trial began Jan. 6, is charged with raping Mann in 2013 and with forcing a sex act on ex-production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006.

In addition, actress Annabella Sciorra, 59, has testified that she was raped by Weinstein at her Gramercy Park apartment in 1993 or 1994 — which is too long ago for a rape charge, but her testimony is intended to support the charge of predatory sexual assault.

The first witness Monday morning was a building manger where Sciorra was subleasing an apartment around that time. Nelson Lopez, an employee of the building for three decades, said doormen are always on duty in the building and get cover if they need to take a break.

His testimony was meant to challenge Sciorra’s version of how Weinstein got to her door. She said he showed up unannounced to her 17th-floor home and shoved his way into the unit. Prosecutors suggested he may have paid off a doorman on duty or sneaked in unnoticed. “I don’t think they could be bribed,” Lopez said.

Justice James Burke told jurors that summations are likely to be Thursday and that they would begin deliberating after Presidents’ Day. The defense is expected to call several additional witnesses.

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