Jennifer Siebel Newsom testifies against Weinstein: ‘This is so disgusting, so wrong’
LOS ANGELES — The prosecutor who investigated Harvey Weinstein in the harassment and sexual assault case against him testified Thursday that the movie mogul threatened to blackmail her and ruin her career if she did not keep quiet.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said he had uncovered new evidence that Weinstein threatened to blackmail and ruin sexual assault victims if they spoke out.
The testimony came in a highly unusual hearing in which prosecutors asked Cooley to reconsider his decision to go forward with a perjury case against Weinstein. The criminal defamation case has been ongoing since December 2014.
Cooley said his office became aware of new, new evidence of Weinstein’s threats of blackmail and intimidation.
“There was pressure from Harvey Weinstein to get the case dropped, and he had been threatening to do that for three years,” he said. “(This) was not done to intimidate, it was done to coerce or to threaten. This was something he wanted to do because he wanted to silence the women. This was not done to protect the women, it was put in service of getting rid of the case.”
Cooley said his office is in the process of reviewing the information and determining whether it has any merit. If that’s the case, the office will be pursuing the case.
In a statement, Weinstein said, “It is unfortunate that the District Attorney’s office thinks it can use the specter of sexual harassment and assault to bring a perjury case against Harvey Weinstein. There is no evidence to support these allegations and Mr. Weinstein does not intend to plead guilty. My commitment to ethics has made me especially concerned about the use of my name to further a political agenda. I intend to fully cooperate with whatever investigation might be conducted.”
Weinstein has said he was not pressured to drop the criminal case.
In a letter to the chief justice, Cooley said the perjury case stems from events that took place in May and June 2014 when Weinstein’s former attorney, Benjamin Brafman, revealed that he had offered to provide evidence to the U.S. Attorney’s office that indicated Weinstein had offered to pay another woman to make false allegations against him.
Cooley said he discovered new evidence that Weinstein had previously threatened Brafman that he would blackmail and