Sensitive to perceptions that Harvey Weinstein is faking an injury, his attorneys asked to have his doctor testify at his rape trial that he really did have back surgery and needs a walker to move around.
“It has been reported on incessantly about his walker, about his ability to stand and walk for extensive periods of time,” attorney Damon Cheronis said in court Monday. “We may be seeking to call his surgeon who testified that he did, in fact, have a laminectomy. That he is, in fact, injured.”
Weinstein, 67, has used a walker or the support of aides as he gingerly arrives to and leaves court each day. A laminectomy is a back surgery that removes part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Cheronis argued that the surgeon’s testimony would ensure the jury does not think he is faking an injury.
“At the end of the day he is hurt and enfeebled,” Cheronis said. “If the jury thinks he is faking it, it could be a problem.”
Judge James Burke rejected the request to have the doctor testify and said it “has nothing to do with the case at hand.”
“Stop reading the newspapers,” Burke said.
The request came after Weinstein’s attorneys called up three witnesses in an attempt to undermine the stories and credibility of some of the women who have accused him of sexual violence.
One witness was Jessica Mann’s former roommate, a second witness was present when Lauren Young was allegedly assaulted, and a third witness testified about Annabella Sciorra’s apartment security.
Monday marked the third day of defense witnesses in Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault trial. Prosecutors have said the movie producer raped and sexually assaulted younger women, but his attorneys have argued that the sexual encounters were consensual and have rejected the prosecution’s assertions that he attacked younger women.
Former roommate testifies
The first witness Monday was Talita Maia, who was Jessica Mann’s former roommate. Mann testified earlier in the trial that Weinstein raped her in a hotel in March 2013 during what she called an abusive relationship, and her accusations make up three of the five charges against him.
In her testimony, Maia said Mann never told her she was unhappy with Weinstein and that Mann would call Weinstein her “spiritual soulmate.”
Maia testified she met Mann and Weinstein outside the hotel in March 2013 when she had plans to meet them for breakfast. She said she thought she remembered Mann texting her to hurry that morning because Weinstein showed up early.
Maia testified she and Mann were invited to the “August: Osage County” movie screening later that night and that they only briefly interacted with Weinstein at the premiere. She said Mann seemed normal the whole day.
However, she also recalled that after the premiere, Mann didn’t want to see Weinstein, who was texting her to meet him at a hotel in Manhattan. Maia said Mann eventually told Weinstein she wasn’t coming and slept at her apartment in Jersey City that night.
Social media influencer testifies
Also testifying Monday was Claudia Salinas, a Mexican model and social media influencer whose testimony contradicted parts of Lauren Young’s story.
Young testified earlier in the trial that Weinstein groped her and masturbated in a hotel bathroom, and Young said Salinas was present in the hotel room and closed the bathroom door on Young to trap her inside.
But in court, Salinas testified she’d never been in a hotel room alone with Young and Weinstein. She said she did remember meeting them at the lobby bar for a drink on the day of the alleged assault.
However, during cross-examination, prosecutor Meghan Hast read previous statements Salinas made to the prosecution’s investigators in which she said more than once that she didn’t remember the details of the meeting with Weinstein and Young. She told the investigators that it was possible they went to his room, though, because Weinstein was always trying to get people up to his room.
Salinas said on the witness stand she didn’t know what she said and didn’t mean it specifically. She said she just recalls having gone up to his hotel rooms at times when she’d meet him because he’d use hotel rooms at the Montage and Peninsula hotels as a mobile office.
Prior to the alleged assault, Salinas recalled seeing Young only once, at a dinner with Young and Weinstein in February 2012, about a year before the alleged assault. Young said the same during her testimony.
Hast also read prior statements in which Salinas said Weinstein told her to bring her “more attractive friends” around and that she felt like he was using her. She testified Monday that Weinstein would say this as a joke and said, “all my friends are good looking.” Weinstein could be seen laughing when she said this.
She acknowledged that Weinstein wasn’t always nice to her and that she’d been frustrated that he wasn’t helping her professionally the way she wanted.
Hast read other statements Salinas told investigators at times saying “He was not very ethical” and calling him a bully. On the stand, Salinas said she didn’t mean it literally but did acknowledge that Weinstein could be a bully “business-wise.”
Manager testifies about Sciorra’s apartment
The residence manager for Annabella Sciorra’s apartment testified briefly Monday morning as Weinstein’s attorneys tried to undermine her testimony.
Sciorra, “The Sopranos” actress, testified earlier in the trial that Weinstein went to her apartment and raped her in the winter of 1993-94. Weinstein’s attorneys have questioned how he would have been able to get to her apartment without a doorman noticing him or allowing him to enter.
Nelson Lopez, the residence manager, testified that there are meant to be doormen at both entrances to the apartment building at all times and that all guests would have to check in with a doorman to gain admittance.
Lopez, who was the manager in the 1990s when Sciorra lived there, said he had no recollection or record of Sciorra ever complaining about unwanted visitors being let up to her apartment.
Lopez did concede to prosecutor Joan Illuzzi that it was possible Weinstein could have snuck in when a doorman was in the bathroom or possibly bribed one to let him in. But he said several times that he never knew a doorman to take a bribe at his building.