Two more victims testify at Harvey Weinstein’s trial on Wednesday 28 January that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted them.
Dawn Dunning, an aspiring actress at the time, testified Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her and teased film roles in exchange for a threesome in 2004.
Model Tarale Wulff testified that Harvey Weinstein masturbated in front of her at the Cipriani restaurant in SoHo and, later, raped her at his apartment in 2005.
The court heard two more victims testify as the prosecution’s “prior bad acts” witnesses on Wednesday morning. Both Dawn and Tarale are critical to the prosecutions’s case – that this is not just about two women being victimised but rather many others, showing a pattern of predatory behaviour.
Dawn explained that she was waitressing at a nightclub in the Meatpacking District in New York when she first met Weinstein. She said she had met Weinstein a few times and he offered to help her with her career and set up some screen tests at Miramax.
Dawn said that during the meetings Weinstein would comment on her looks and body, but she did not feel ‘unsafe’ during those times. However, he invited her to a meeting and she was led to a hotel room by one of his assistants.
There were other employees working on laptops when she went in to the room, which made her feel comfortable. However, Weinstein took her into the bedroom to talk. When alone with her, Weinstein put his hand under her skirt and under her underwear.
She told the court she froze and was embarrassed. Dawn stood up and he apologised and told her not to make a big deal about it and it wouldn’t happen again.
Dawn explained that she wanted to pretend that it hadn’t happened and she didn’t want to be a ‘victim.’
Some time afterwards, Weinstein invited her to the InterContinental Hotel near Park Avenue. Dawn explained that she gave him the “benefit of the doubt” that he would stick to his word and not do anything inappropriate to her again and agreed to meet him there.
When she knocked on the door of the room Harvey Weinstein opened it in his bathrobe. He said he had contracts for three films he would sign if she agreed to have a threesome with him and his assistant. She initially thought it was a joke.
Weinstein got angry, she said, and told her:
‘You’ll never make it in this business. This is how this industry works. This is how these three actresses got to where they are,’” Dunning recalled Weinstein telling her. The actresses he listed were Charlize Theron, Salma Hayek and one other whom Dunning couldn’t remember.
She told the court that she was scared and ran away. She didn’t tell anyone, she said, and she gave up pursuing a career in acting.
When the defence questioned her, Arthur Aidala, asked about what she did afterwards and why she didn’t report what happened. Dawn answered that she felt she needed to tell the “whole truth” about what happened. which is why she shared her story with the New York Times in 2017.
Tarale Wulff told the court that whilst she was working as a waitress at Cipriani, Harvey Weinstein said he wanted to talk with her. He grabbed her by the arm and led her to an unused terraced. She said she noticed his shirt was moving.
Weinstein later contacted her and asked her to read for a part in one of his movies. He told Tarale to meet him at the Weinstein office. When she got there, she was told a car was waiting to take her to meet him. She didn’t know where she was being taken. The driver took her to Weinstein’s Soho apartment.
Tarale told the court that when she arrived Harvey Weinstein took her by the arms, turned her around, and leaned her onto the bed with his bodyweight. She told him, “I can’t” and he said “Don’t worry, I had a vasectomy” Tarale said that he used his body weight to hold her down, put his penis inside her and raped her.
Said she that “froze” but decided that she’d be better off if she could just try to “get past it.”
Tarale told the court that afterwards Weinstein took her back to the Weinstein office and told her to come back when she was ready to read for the role. She ultimately never did the audition, nor did she get the part.
Donna Rotunno, under cross examination, asked Tarale why she had not characterised the second encounter as rape when she met with prosecutors. Rotunno also accused the District Attorney’s office of referring Tarale to a mental health professional, suggesting that the session was intended to recover memories of the incident.
My Two Cents: Again, the court hears from two more credible women about Harvey Weinstein’s predatory pattern of behaviour. He used his position of power and trust dangling incentives of work to aspiring and attractive female actors. How many men did he do the same for?
What’s clear to me is that Weinstein fully understood the power and control dynamic and exploited it. He used other employees, women, to make the women feel safe and comfortable. I believe he had been doing it for so long, and felt so comfortable doing it, that he didn’t care what witnesses there were.
That points to either extremely reckless behaviour on his part, or a man who is supremely confident about the power he wields and the silence he can buy – a man who is used to getting away with it. I believe it’s the latter. And how many more female victims are there that have never spoken out?
The case continues.