Los Angeles: Actor Mel Gibson may be called to testify against Harvey Weinstein in the producer’s upcoming rape trial in Los Angeles, a judge ruled Friday.
Prosecutors want to call the actor to back up the allegations from Jane Doe 3, who claims Weinstein sexually assaulted her after she gave him a massage at his hotel in 2010, reports Variety.
According to Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez, the woman later told Gibson about the incident during a massage, and Gibson’s testimony would help support her charge.
Judge Lisa B. Lench allowed prosecutors to call Gibson to the stand. She also denied a defense request that they be allowed to question Gibson about racist and anti-Semitic statements he has made over the years. But the defense will be able to ask if Gibson has a grudge against Weinstein.
The defense argued that Gibson has had ill will towards Weinstein since the release of “The Passion of the Christ,” which was seen as playing on anti-Semitic themes.
Weinstein later published a book, Perspectives on the Passion of the Christ, which challenged the film.
“This created a dispute between Mr. Gibson and Mr. Weinstein,” argued Mark Werksman, Weinstein’s attorney.
When Werksman wrongly claimed the film won a best picture Oscar, Weinstein waved his arms and gave him a look of disdain.
Werksman also argued that Gibson “is now trying to rehabilitate his image by becoming a champion of the #MeToo movement.
According to the attorneys, Gibson told investigators that Jane Doe 3 had a “PTSD reaction” when she mentioned the name “Harvey” during a massage. Gibson was talking about Weinstein in the context of a business deal.
The woman stopped the massage, began to cry and “gave the idea that Weinstein sexually assaulted or groped her,” Werksman said.
Werksman argued that he should be allowed to confront Gibson about his anti-Semitic tirade that followed his 2006 arrest, as well as an anti-Semitic comment he allegedly once made to Winona Ryder and other racist statements.
“How is it relevant if it’s racist towards African Americans or Latinos?” Lench asked.
“It’s because of his unwillingness to give the same status to someone who isn’t his ilk. He has a white supremacist view,” Werksman replied.
“Someone with white supremacist values might have no problem committing perjury against a Jewish defendant.”
Lench eventually allowed the defense to ask Gibson about any animosity toward Weinstein.
“I’m not going to let you get into his other comments that may indicate his general behavior about, as you say, ‘people who are not his ilk,'” he said.
“I will allow you to question him as to whether or not there is any personal animosity between the two of you.”
The judge later allowed the defense to point to the name of a book, “Naked Massage,” that Jane Doe 3 was trying to get published with Weinstein’s help. The court spent the first half of the day discussing Jane Doe 1, an Italian model who alleges Weinstein raped her at the Mr C Hotel during the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival in February 2013.
The defense argued against the prosecution’s intention to use so-called “new complaint” witnesses for each of the five alleged victims and four “previous wrongdoing” witnesses.
Weinstein’s attorney, Alan Jackson, proposed that the prosecution limit its use of new complaints to “statements made by a victim within a short period of time after a crime to” one per alleged victim, and none for the uncharged witnesses.
“I don’t think there’s any case law that suggests they can rack up new whistleblower witnesses in multiples,” Jackson said, adding later. “It waters down the evidence. I think it’s a waste of time. I think it’s inappropriate. I think it waters down Mr. Weinstein’s due process.”
Describing it as a “prosecution of the Energizer Bunny,” Jackson said the introduction of new complaints has “far more prejudice than value.”
Jackson referred to calls Jane Doe 1 made to one of the witnesses, Lubov Smirnova, saying, “Something terrible happened.”
The “vague statement” is not a new complaint, Jackson argued: “None of those have the specificity to become a new complaint. It’s damaging.”
Lench ruled that both complaints filed with Smirnova are admissible, in addition to a complaint filed with Jane Doe 1’s daughter, Maria C.
Lench will allow the defense to present as evidence photographs of Jane Doe 1 posted on social media, including since-deleted kickboxing photos that he says could cast doubt on his ability to outrun or outrun a threat. Though Lench agreed with Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson that the line of questioning could perpetuate the rape myth.
Jackson later argued that the prosecution’s claim that Jane Doe 1 “said nothing about his scrotum or testicles in his first two interviews” was false. She cited three interviews with LAPD Detective Javier Vargas and Deputy District Attorney Lowrie Mendoza in which she is quoted as saying multiple times that they forced her to “suck his balls, put her testicles in her mouth.”
Weinstein does not have testicles, Jackson said. Actress Jessica Mann testified in graphic detail during her trial in New York about her “deformed” genitalia.
After three days of jury selection, the pool of potential jurors was whittled down to 160 on Friday.
Weinstein faces 11 counts of sexual assault for allegedly assaulting five women between 2004 and 2013. The disgraced mogul is already serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of rape and sexual assault at his New York trial in 2020.
The New York Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal, but a conviction in Los Angeles, where he faces up to 140 years behind bars, could effectively guarantee he is behind bars for life.