The 70-year-old on trial for allegedly sexually abusing five women between 2003 and 2014 was improperly seated at the defense table, allowing him to look directly at the 12 people in the jury box, according to The Envelope. The alleged stare came as the first of eight women was due to testify against Weinstein said he raped her in a hotel room in Beverly Hills in 2013.
The assault, she said, included Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex before leading her into the bathroom – where he attempted to penetrate her vagina with his fingers and penis before finally masturbating after having “erection problems”. The woman, identified in court as Jane Doe 1, said Weinstein later threatened her, saying, “You don’t know me.”
Weinstein’s lawyer insisted on Wednesday that his client was doing nothing wrong and asked the judge to allow him to remain seated next to the table because his wheelchair was taking up a lot of space. The request was denied and Weinstein was forced out of the jury’s crosshairs, although The envelope reported that he almost immediately started looking in their direction again.
A spokesperson for Weinstein has hit back at claims that the toppled Hollywood titan was intentionally staring at anyone.
“Harvey is carried with help, helped by the guards or the lawyers in a stationary chair, and that’s where he sits,” Juda Engelmayer told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “He tries not to make eye contact with the jury; he is afraid to look at them and feels uneasy, imagining what they might think of him.
The spokesperson added that Weinstein “felt confident, but uncomfortable” about his second sex crimes trial. Engelmayer went on to suggest that prosecutors were using issues — like Weinstein staring at jurors — to bolster their case portraying Weinstein as a powerful man who systematically assaulted women and tried to silence them.
Already convicted of sex crimes in New York, Weinstein is serving a 23-year sentence in the Empire State, although the case is on appeal.
On Thursday, several prosecution witnesses testified to support the Jane Doe 1 allegations, including Weinstein’s former limo driver. Alfred “Freddy” Barouth testified that on the night of the alleged February 2013 attack at the Beverly Hills Hotel Mr. C, he dropped Weinstein off at the Peninsula Hotel after midnight. The driver added that the two hotels are about a six-minute drive apart and that Weinstein would frequent Mr. C for dinner or for industry events.
The driver also gave insight into what it was like working for the disgraced producer until 2017, noting that he often rushed Weinstein from one event to another.
“If we were late, there was no red light. If we were in a hurry, we would go through it,” he said, earning a laugh in the courtroom.