NEW YORK — A woman who was testifying on the stand for the second day about the alleged assaults and humiliation she endured from Harvey Weinstein appeared to have a panic attack while being questioned by his lawyers Monday.
Jessica Mann, the fifth woman to testify against Weinstein in his rape trial in New York City, began to sob uncontrollably and have trouble breathing when Weinstein’s lawyers repeatedly pressed her about why she had continued a relationship with him after the alleged assault.
Mann, who first met Weinstein when she moved to Los Angeles from a dairy farm in Washington state in hopes of pursuing a career in acting, testified last week that the disgraced Hollywood producer forced oral sex on her, raped her, and then manipulated her into a sexually humiliating relationship.
Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno suggested to Mann on Monday that she had “manipulated” Weinstein because she liked the “parties and the power” that came from having a relationship with him.
“You’re interpreting this in a particular way, but it’s possible that he just genuinely liked you,” Rotunno said when Mann tried to stress that her relationship with Weinstein was abusive and embarrassing.
“I felt panicked because I had this dynamic with Harvey where I always had to jump and obey. The abuse was unpredictable,” Mann said.
Over the course of the day, Rotunno challenged Mann’s testimony on various fronts, trying to poke holes in her story.
Mann, who was on the stand for approximately five hours, was repeatedly asked to justify her actions, her behavior toward Weinstein, and what she did and did not say about the alleged abuse to her friends and family.
“Ms. Mann, you lied to your mother, lied to Harvey, lied to your friends about your relationship,” Rotunno said at one point.
“My abuse was embarrassing, and I didn’t want to share it with people,” Mann responded. “I wouldn’t characterize that as lying.”
Shortly before 4 p.m. Monday, still answering the defense’s questions, Mann burst into tears and appeared to have trouble breathing.
After a brief recess, Judge James Burke cut the day short and adjourned proceedings.
Mann is expected to return to the stand Tuesday.