Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer disputes TIFF attack allegations

Patrick Swanson / October 30,2022



Kelly Sifferd, a former actor with whom he briefly dated Harvey Weinstein testified at the Toronto International Film Festival when she was 24 in the early 90s that she was sexually assaulted by a producer in 1991 and again in 2008.


She said the jury that after Weinstein invited her to his hotel room to look at a movie script for a potential role, he forcibly gave her oral sex and raped her, despite her repeatedly telling him to stop. Years later, during a chance encounter at TIFF, when she was about to confront Weinstein for assaulting her nearly two decades later, he cornered her in a hotel bathroom and masturbated in front of her.


Over the years, Sifferd told a handful of friends about the alleged assault, but did not report the assaults to authorities until much later. She testified Monday in Los Angeles that she told her friends what happened between 2012 and 2016. But when Weinstein’s defense questioned Sifferd, they asked why she waited to go to police until after the #MeToo movement, which began with Weinstein’s shocking stories in 2017.


“You told the authorities for the first time,” said Weinstein’s lawyer, Alan Jackson, after “the whole world turned on my client and accused him of being everything under the sun, including a sex offender.”


During cross-examination, Jackson painted a picture of a woman who “voluntarily” had sex with Weinstein, despite her testimony that she was assaulted against her will. Sifferd previously told jurors that she met Weinstein at a party at TIFF in 1991 and had a “wonderful” conversation with him about art and film, so when he asked her out for a drink, she agreed, deeming it a friendly and professional conversation. When he suggested that he might have a part for her, the then aspiring actress agreed to go to his hotel because she believed that the only purpose of going to his hotel room was to see the script.


“You were a 24-year-old aspiring actress with a successful producer and agreed to go to a hotel?” Jackson asked. “To see the script,” Shipperd replied. Jackson then said, “But is my synopsis accurate?”


Jackson asked Sifferd if she found Weinstein “attractive” when she initially dated him. She said she found him “charming” and “smart” during their first conversation, but believed she was “sweet” and warm.


“He could provide some pretty significant employment opportunities,” Jackson said, asking Sifferd if it would be helpful to “be in his good graces.”


When Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez questioned Seiferd, she fended off Jackson’s line of questioning with a series of clues.


“Whether or not you find him ‘attractive’, have you said ‘no’ to him one or more times?” asked the prosecutor. She rattled. “Do you find him romantically attractive?” “Did you want to have sex with him?” “Did you want to be in a hotel room with Mr. Weinstein raping you?”


A common theme of Jackson’s questioning was why Sipherd would see or talk to Weinstein again when he assaulted her. She told jurors that after the 1991 incident, Weinstein called her to invite her to an audition in New York, and she went thinking it was a good career opportunity, but brought a friend with her to feel protected and not to be alone with Weinstein. “You did take his phone calls, didn’t you?” Jackson asked. “Did your abuser try to convince you to come to New York?”


When Siferd explained that she had agreed to go to the audition and that Weinstein had paid for her hotel in New York, Jackson said Weinstein asked her if Weinstein was “a pretty generous guy.” She replied, “Isn’t that what they do in business when they want to listen to someone?” Jackson suggested that she “gladly” agreed to go, but she replied, “Not happily.”


Years later, when Cyperd met Weinstein in 2008, again at TIFF, she confronted him at his hotel because she was “holding back” her feelings about what happened in 1991 and wanted answers. During that interaction, she says Weinstein assaulted her again, masturbating in front of her because she couldn’t leave the room.


“The second time you found yourself with a man who allegedly raped you in a hotel room?” Jackson asked. Muttering quietly on the stand, Siferd replied, “I know.”


During opening statements, the prosecution told jurors that Weinstein used business meetings to assault women. On the other hand, the defense said the women knew Weinstein was strong and wanted to sleep with him to advance their careers, but years later, in the #MeToo era, they changed their stories from consensual and “transactional sex “. ” to the victim.

“They’re going to play the role of damsel in distress with this beast … They have to lie to themselves, to you, to this court,” said Weinstein’s other attorney, Mark Werksman. said the jury at the beginning of the trial. Jackson reiterated that defensive strategy on Monday.

“If you had consensual sex with Mr. Weinstein, the #MeToo monster, you would never be able to live with yourself, your husband and your children, right?” Jackson animatedly asked Siferd on the podium. The prosecutor objected, and the judge quickly shut down Jackson’s line of questioning.