Accuser Takes Center Stage At Harvey Weinstein Trial: Who Is Jessica Mann?

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Accuser Takes Center Stage At Harvey Weinstein Trial: Who Is Jessica Mann?
Entertainment And News

The sexual assault trial of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is underway in New York City. Weinstein faces four counts of felony predatory sexual assault, along with one count of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. He faces two accusers in court and stands to spend the rest of his life in prison if he's convicted. He's also facing a second set of charges in Los Angeles. A trial date has not been announced for that case.

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Jessica Mann is one of the accusers testifying in the New York case. A one-time aspiring actress, Mann's history with Weinstein is as complicated as it is disturbing. Prosecutors allege she started a relationship with the producer voluntarily but over time, his treatment of her devolved into abuse and she was unsure how to get away from him. He eventually escalated his mistreatment to the point of raping her. Weinstein's defenders argue the relationship was always consensual.

Who is Jessica Mann and what was her relationship to Harvey Weinstein? Read on for all the shocking details. 

1. Who is Jessica Mann? Is she famous for anything?

If you have never heard of Jessica Mann, don't worry. She isn't a celebrity. She was raised on a farm in Washington state and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 25 in the hopes of starting an acting career. She had a side hustle as a hairstylist to pay the bills. She got some minor parts doing commercials but her acting career never really took off. She met Harvey Weinstein at a party and they got friendly there. She hoped he would help her advance her career but that never came to pass. Instead, she alleges she was subjected to horrific sexual abuse. 

2. Weinstein assaulted Mann for the first time in 2013.  

Mann alleges she met Weinstein at a party in Los Angeles in 2013. They stayed in contact after the party and both found themselves in New York City in March. Mann was staying the Doubletree Hotel in Manhattan and Weinstein showed up unannounced and met her in the lobby. Mann was upset by him arriving there according to prosecuting attorney Meghan Hast. “She was panicked like seeing her parent come home drunk because she knew what was coming next,”  Hast said. “[Weinstein] became angry and grabbed her by the arm and warned her not to embarrass him in the hotel room and said they could finish their conversation in private.” When they were behind closed doors, Weinstein injected himself with drugs so that he could get an erection then forced Mann onto the bed where he raped her. 

Inexplicably, after raping her, Weinstein invited her to a party. Mann attended but afterward, she stayed with a friend rather than risk going to back to the hotel where she feared Weinstein would find her again. 

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3. The second assault happened later the same year. 

In November 2013, Weinstein called Mann to a hotel where he was staying to cut his hair. Once she was there, he told her she "owed him one more time" before raping her again. Afterward he told her, "I just find you so attractive. I couldn’t resist you.” She claimed that he again had to inject erection medication directly into his genital and, after he forced her to perform oral sex on him, the taste was "something vile and unforgettable."

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4. What happened after the attacks?

Instead of turning Weinstein into authorities or even just avoiding him in the future, Mann made the controversial choice to stay in contact with him. Prosecutors describe that choice as a coping mechanism born partly of fear and partly of a sense of retaining some control over the situation. "She tried to have some sort of relationship with the defendant,” Hast said. “Over the next few months [and] years, she continued to see him. You will learn that Jessica Mann felt trapped. She felt that there was no way to get out without suffering — her friends, her career, or worse, physical harm. She could do this, she thought. Maybe he really did think she was talented. Maybe I can just grin and bear it," Hast told the New York jury. "He became more demanding and violent, more violent and disgusting, so disgusting. Jessica Mann tried to put on a brave face, pretending to the world that nothing was wrong. All the while, you will learn, she was dying inside."

Mann finally cut ties to Weinstein in 2017. 

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5. The defense says the relationship was always consensual.

Weinstein's attorneys contend that the continued relationship between their client and Mann is evidence that there was nothing untoward between them. They plan to present friendly emails exchanged between Mann and Weinstein.  "You are going to see an actual loving relationship in hundreds of emails and communications between Harvey Weinstein and Jessica Mann," attorney Damon Cheronis said. "You are going to see it, and when you see it, you're going to ask yourself, 'What is going on? Is this man guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? No.'"

6. Mann will have the chance to tell her story.

Mann is expected to testify and tell her story in her own words. She won't be alone. The other victim in the New York case, Mimi Haleyi is also expected to testify. The prosecution will call four corroborating witnesses in addition. Actresses Amber Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Tara Ley Wolf, and Lauren Young will all share their experiences being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. 

The trial is ongoing and could last for weeks. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.

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