NEW YORK — A former production assistant for Project Runway testified in court Monday that she “felt like an idiot” for visiting Harvey Weinstein at his hotel after the first time the allegedly raped her.
Mimi Haley — who was previously known as Mimi Haleyi before legally changing her name after she shared her story publicly in 2017 — broke down on the stand describing how Weinstein allegedly raped her twice over two years. The criminal charges against Weinstein are based on Haley's allegations, along with those of another alleged victim — Jessica Mann. Four other women's testimonies, including that of Annabella Sciorra, will be used by the prosecution to establish a pattern of predatory sexual behavior.
Haley, the second accuser to take the stand at the disgraced Hollywood producer’s rape trial, said she did not initially consider the second attack to be a rape at the time that it happened, because she had voluntarily gone to meet with him, in an attempt to reclaim “some power” following the first assault.
Haley’s reaction mirrors what Dr. Barbara Ziv, an expert on sexual assault who testified last week about the persistence of rape myths, explained frequently happens with victims.
“Often what happens, honestly, is if women go back to have contact with the perpetrator — which they almost always do — believing, OK, we can go back to square one, and a second sexual assault occurs, it is more devastating for that person,” Ziv said last week. “The first response that women who are sexually assaulted have is to blame themselves, it is another part of the rape myth, that you have done something to bring this on you. That is not true. But women think, Oh my god, I was an idiot. What was I thinking? — without knowing their behavior is actually entirely expected.”
Haley, 42, testified that she met Weinstein in 2004 when they were introduced by a mutual friend.
She ran into Weinstein again about two years later at the Cannes Film Festival. At the time, she was out of work and in need of money, so she asked Weinstein if he had any projects in New York that she could work on.
He invited her to the Weinstein Company’s office at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes, Haley said.
“The conversation began normally. He was friendly. But soon he began to comment on my appearance. I remember he said something about my legs, which I thought was odd,” she said.
Haley said the meeting got progressively more inappropriate as Weinstein asked her if she could give him a massage.
“I suggested calling the front desk,” she said. “But he insisted that he wanted me to give him a massage, then offered me one.”
Haley said she left the meeting immediately, feeling completely humiliated. “I had gone to ask for work,” she said. “I felt gross that I had been excited to go see him and that he had treated me that way. I burst into tears as soon as I left the building.”
Haley said she left the hotel certain that Weinstein would not offer her any work, but a few days later, she said, she was told that she could join the crew of Project Runway.
Sometime after that, following a meeting at his New York City office, Haley said Weinstein offered her a ride home, during which he repeatedly asked her to join him in Paris for a fashion show.
“Once I returned to my apartment, he began calling me again and again, begging me to reconsider and come to Paris with him,” she said.
Haley said Weinstein then returned to her apartment building and called her from outside. “He would not leave,” she said. “I didn’t want him to come inside, so I thought I would go meet him outside and talk to him.”
Haley testified that as she opened the door to exit her building, Weinstein was standing outside. She said he pushed past her, barging into the building and then into her apartment.
Once inside, she said he kept insisting that she join him in Paris.
“I just did not know how to shut it down,” Haley said. “So I said, ‘You know, you have a terrible reputation with women,’ and he immediately looked offended, like he did not like me very much at that point.”
She said he asked her what she meant by that, to which Haley said she responded that she was just joking.
“That’s when he finally backed off and left the apartment,” she said.
Haley told the court that she was concerned about the fact that Weinstein was not happy with her. “I wasn’t interested in him sexually or romantically, but I did want him to like me as a person. I wanted to maintain a professional relationship with him.”
Haley said she later agreed to meet Weinstein at his apartment in Soho. It was there, she said, that he allegedly raped her.
Haley said the meeting began on a friendly, casual note — she and Weinstein were seated on opposite ends of a sofa, “half-watching the television” while talking to each other.
“At some point he came toward me and lunged at me, trying to kiss me,” she said. “I got up and said, ‘Oh no, no, no!’ I tried to reject him and push him away, but he pulled me back, kissed me and started fondling me.”
Haley said she attempted to walk away but the producer backed her into a bedroom. “He was pushing me with his body until I got to the bed and fell backward,” she said. “I tried to get up, and he pushed me down repeatedly, by that time I started realizing what was happening … that this was rape.”
Haley said she told Weinstein that she was on her period to stop him from going further. “I was mortified. It was as if he didn’t believe me, and he said, ‘Well, where is it then?’ And he pulled my tampon out.” Haley said Weinstein then performed oral sex on her.
Haley told the court she tried to weigh her options in her head.
“If I scream, will someone hear me? Will I have a chance to get away from him? Will I be able to get into the elevator? Will I be able to get down to the street without him catching me, and is the driver in on it? Will he catch me?” she said.
Ultimately, Haley said she had no choice but to simply switch off. “I couldn’t even get out from under him at all let alone get out of the apartment,” she said.
Haley said she told her roommate and friend about the assault but ultimately decided not to report it to the police.
“Going to the police was not an option for me because I had been working in the US without a work visa — I didn’t want them to ask me about that,” she said. “Obviously Mr. Weinstein had a lot more power and connections than me, and I didn’t think I would stand a chance.”
When Weinstein called her about three weeks later, asking her to meet him at his hotel in Tribeca, Haley said she went.
“To my mind, I thought I was reclaiming some of my power,” she testified. “He was very persistent in his way. Almost instantly he pulled me by my hand toward the bed. At that point...I just went numb and thought...here we go again. I just thought...I’m an idiot.” Haley said, pausing her testimony as she wept.
“I had believed whatever he had told me to make me go there. When he pulled me to the bed and I couldn’t resist physically … I just lay there.”
Haley said Weinstein called her a “whore” and a “bitch” in an attempt to arouse her. “I was just lying there motionless and saying, 'No, no, I’m not a bitch, I’m not a whore.'”
Haley told the court that she did not at the time consider what happened in Tribeca to be rape. “The second time, I had gone there myself, and I blame myself,” she said.