Lauren Young thought she would have a chance to discuss one of her scripts with Harvey Weinstein but instead he masturbated in front of her in the bathroom of a hotel room, she testified on Wednesday.
“We’re just talking,” Young said a naked Weinstein told her before groping her.
When Young took the stand Wednesday, she testified that she went to an Oscars dinner hosted by Weinstein in February 2012. She didn’t talk to Weinstein that night but met a friend of his, Claudia Salinas, and got her contact information.
A year later, Salinas reached out to Young to arrange a meeting with Weinstein to discuss a script Young wrote. The three met on February 19, 2013 at the Montage Beverly Hills, a date Young recalled based on emails she kept.
Young said she first met Salinas at the lobby bar and ordered a gin and tonic. Weinstein came about ten minutes later and was distracted on his phone, Young testified. Young said that Weinstein suggested she go out for America’s Next Top Model, but that she said she wasn’t interested in reality TV.
She then followed him to a hotel room upstairs because he said he had to get ready for an awards event involving Quentin Tarantino. Young testified that Weinstein led them and she walked between him and Salinas into the room.
When they walked into the hotel room bathroom and Salinas closed the door behind her, Young said she “started realizing I’m trapped.”
As she moved to leave the bathroom and despite her repeatedly telling him “no,” Weinstein undressed, pulled down her dress and masturbated while grabbing her right breast, Young testified.
She said Weinstein eventually ejaculated into a towel and walked out of the bathroom leaving her standing there.
After the incident, Young testified that she drove home to her Venice Beach, California apartment, where she told two friends about what happened.
She felt “traumatized,” “paranoid” and scared of Weinstein’s power, Young testified.
The day after the alleged assault, Young went to a prescheduled meeting with a Weinstein Company employee because she said she thought Weinstein might be there and she could tell him off.
Weinstein wasn’t there but Claudia Salinas was, and Young said she told her “don’t talk to me,” she testified.
Young said that Salinas was outside the office during her meeting. During the meeting that she said lasted less than an hour, they discussed the possibility of her appearing on “America’s Next Top Model.”
During cross-examination, Weinstein’s attorneys cited some of Young’s statements to law enforcement, suggesting there are inconsistencies in her story and questioned her about the timeline of the alleged assault.
Young is one of three women testifying as a so-called “prior bad acts” witness, which means her testimony is not connected to any of the five charges against Weinstein. However, prosecutors say her testimony will show that Weinstein had a pattern of abuse in which he used his power as a movie producer to lure young women into unwanted sexual encounters.
In general, “prior bad acts” witnesses aim to strengthen the prosecution’s case, particularly in a “he said-she said” sexual assault trial without forensic evidence. In Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial, for example, five women testified as “prior bad acts” witnesses.
Previously in the trial, Tarale Wulff testified that he raped her when she was an aspiring actress in 2005. In addition, Dawn Dunning testified that he groped her in 2004 and, in another incident, tried to pressure her into three-way sex by telling her “this is how this industry works,” according to her testimony.
Weinstein faces charges of first-degree rape, third-degree rape and predatory sexual assault for allegedly attacking Jessica Mann. He also faces charges of first-degree criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault related to incidents with Miriam Haley.
Actress Annabella Sciorra’s testimony that he raped her in the winter of 1993-94 is relevant to the predatory sexual assault charges. To convict him on those charges, prosecutors must prove Weinstein committed sex crimes against multiple victims, and Sciorra’s testimony is part of that count.
Young will return to the stand on Thursday to continue cross-examination.