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Here’s why Mel Gibson could testify at Harvey Weinstein’s trial

  • Post category:Entertainment
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Mel Gibson can testify to what he learned from one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, a judge ruled Friday in the former movie mogul’s rape and sexual assault trial.

The 66-year-old actor and director was one of many, and by far the most well-known, witnesses whose identity was revealed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The judge and attorneys had taken a break from jury selection to consider motions about what evidence will be allowed at trial and who can testify. The list of witnesses for the trial is sealed.

Judge Lisa B. Lench has ruled that Mel Gibson can testify on behalf of her masseuse and friend, who will be known as Jane Doe #3 at trial.

Weinstein is accused of forcibly committing a sexual assault on this woman, one of 11 counts of rape and sexual assault in the trial against the septuagenarian.

Prosecutors said that after receiving a massage from the woman at a California hotel in Beverly Hills in May 2010, Weinstein, naked, followed her into the bathroom and masturbated. Weinstein pleaded not guilty and denied any non-consensual sexual activity.

Weinstein’s lawyers objected to Gibson testifying, saying what he learned about the woman while she was giving him a massage does not constitute a “new complaint” of the woman within the meaning of the law, which that would allow Gibson to testify. A “new complaint,” according to California law, allows evidence of a sexual assault or other crime to be introduced if the victim reported it to someone else voluntarily and relatively quickly after the fact.

Prosecutors said when Gibson casually brought up Weinstein’s name, the woman had a traumatic reaction and Gibson realized she had been sexually assaulted. Gibson does not recall the timing of the exchange, but the prosecution will call another witness, Allison Weiner, who recalls speaking to Gibson and the woman in 2015.

Judge Lench said Gibson’s testimony will depend on how the accuser describes the exchange with him when she takes the stand, and she may decide to object to it at that time.

Weinstein’s attorney, Mark Werksman, then argued that if Gibson takes the stand, the defense should be allowed to cross-examine him on widely publicized anti-Semitic remarks Gibson made during a 2006 arrest. and on racist statements to a girlfriend that were recorded and broadcast in 2010.

Ms Lench said a broader discussion of Gibson’s racism was irrelevant to the trial, but would allow for questioning about whether he had a personal bias and animosity towards Weinstein.

Werksman argued that Gibson had such a bias both because Weinstein is Jewish and because Weinstein published a book that criticized the portrayal of Jews in Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ.”

Any evidence of Mr. Gibson’s racism or anti-Semitism would result in bias against my client, who challenged him“, Mr. Werksman said.

The attorney briefly, and mistakenly, said he thought the film won a Best Picture Oscar, but Weinstein, whose films once topped the Oscars, shook his head as he sat at the table of the defense.

Sorry, my client would know better than me“, Werksman said.”But it was an award-winning movie“.

The defense also argued that Gibson was trying to whitewash his image by focusing on Weinstein’s wrongdoings and asserting himself as a champion of the #MeToo movement.

The prosecution argued that Gibson made no such suggestions about him, and that at the time of the conversation with his masseuse he said he was discussing the possibility of a business deal with Weinstein, which shows that there was no such bias.

Assistant District Attorney Marlene Martinez called Gibson’s past comments “despicable” but said they were irrelevant to the narrow purposes for which he would be called to the stand.

Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence for a 2020 conviction for rape and sexual assault in New York. The state’s highest court has agreed to hear his appeal in the case.

He was then transferred to Los Angeles for a trial which began on Monday, five years after women’s stories about him gave massive momentum to the #MeToo movement.

Friday’s closing arguments came a day after the premiere of the film “She Said,” which chronicles the work of the two New York Times reporters whose stories brought Weinstein down.

Weinstein’s attorneys had previously requested that the Los Angeles trial be postponed because the film’s publicity risked swaying the jury, but the judge denied their request.

The trial is expected to last eight weeks. The judge and attorneys will resume the jury selection process on Monday morning, and opening statements are scheduled to begin Oct. 24.