Accuser called Weinstein 'her spiritual soulmate': Former friend

Brazilian actress Talita Maia (above) and Mexican actress-model Claudia Salinas testified for Harvey Weinstein’s defence, casting doubt on the accusers’ sexual assault claims.
Brazilian actress Talita Maia (above) and Mexican actress-model Claudia Salinas testified for Harvey Weinstein’s defence, casting doubt on the accusers’ sexual assault claims. PHOTOS: REUTERS
Brazilian actress Talita Maia and Mexican actress-model Claudia Salinas (above) testified for Harvey Weinstein’s defence, casting doubt on the accusers’ sexual assault claims.
Brazilian actress Talita Maia and Mexican actress-model Claudia Salinas (above) testified for Harvey Weinstein’s defence, casting doubt on the accusers’ sexual assault claims. PHOTOS: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Former friends of two Harvey Weinstein accusers assailed their credibility at his sexual assault trial, with one saying accuser Jessica Mann once referred to the movie producer as her "soulmate".

Testifying on Monday for the defence, Talita Maia, a Brazilian actress, contradicted Mann's account that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013 as Maia was in the next room.

Maia told the jury in New York state court that nothing unusual happened and that afterwards Mann, now 34, was "normal".

She testified that when she and Mann met Weinstein at a party in early 2013, he and Mann "appeared to be friends".

Under cross-examination, Maia said while Mann did not find Weinstein "attractive", she "spoke very highly of him" and that "she said a few times he was her spiritual soulmate".

Weinstein, 67, has been charged in New York with rape and predatory sexual assault for alleged attacks on former actress Mann and former production assistant Miriam Haley. He could go to prison for the rest of his life if convicted.

His legal team on Monday also called Claudia Salinas, a Mexican actress-model, to refute the testimony of model Lauren Young.

The latter testified last week that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel in Beverly Hills.

Young told the jury that when she went to the hotel to pitch a screenplay as an aspiring actress, he invited her to his room and Salinas trapped her in a bathroom with him.

Prosecutors tapped Young as one of three women to establish a pattern of sexual predation.

"Did you ever lure Lauren Young into a bathroom?" defence lawyer Damon Cheronis asked Salinas on Monday.

"No," said Salinas, who acknowledged on cross-examination that she was cast in two Weinstein movies.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2020, with the headline 'Accuser called Weinstein 'her spiritual soulmate': Former friend'. Print Edition | Subscribe