A Brazilian actress testified on behalf of Harvey Weinstein on Monday, arguing accuser Jessica Mann, her former roommate, “never seemed upset” with the movie mogul—and once referred to him as her “spiritual soulmate.”
Talita Maia, 35, told jurors in Manhattan Supreme Court she was first introduced to Mann, a key witness in Weinstein’s trial, at an engagement party in the Hollywood Hills in 2013.
“She said a few times that he was her spiritual soulmate,” Maia said during cross-examination, admitting the pair didn’t talk “much about Harvey.” “She said that he was a wonderful person and that he was her soulmate, but I didn’t ask about their sexual relationship.”
“At least to me, she never seemed upset,” she added.
Mann, during her emotional three-day testimony, said Weinstein sexually assaulted her multiple times—starting in 2013 when he allegedly forcibly performed oral sex on her at the Montage Hotel while Maia was on the other side of the door.
“He laid me down on the bed and that’s when he went down on me,” Mann said, adding that the alleged assault took place moments after Weinstein promised them both lead roles in his upcoming movies. “I started to fake an orgasm to get out of it.”
In another incident, Weinstein allegedly sexually assaulted her inside a DoubleTree hotel room in Manhattan before she was due to meet Maia for breakfast. Later that year, Mann said Weinstein raped her again at a Beverly Hills hotel in an attack so forceful that he ripped off her pants while screaming that she owed him “one more time.”
Mann testified that despite the abuse, she maintained a twisted relationship with Weinstein to “protect” herself and her budding acting career, during which they had multiple consensual sexual encounters, including a threesome.
Dressed in a black blouse and gray slacks, Maia, who is best known for her role in the 2016 sex comedy Casual Encounters, stressed that Mann never told her that she’d been abused by Weinstein, and always seemed to enjoy her time with the producer.
“She always spoke highly of him. She seemed to really like him as a person,” said Maia, who appeared Monday under subpoena.
Weinstein’s defense attorneys have argued Mann was not a victim but a manipulative opportunist who maintained contact with the Pulp Fiction producer through friendly emails years after the alleged assaults.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to five sex-crime charges, including three that are related to his alleged encounters with Mann. The other two charges relate to allegations made by Miriam Haleyi, a former Project Runway production assistant who testified that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at his SoHo home in 2006.
Mann is among at least 80 alleged victims who have accused the Oscar-winner of sexual misconduct—which he has repeatedly denied.
Maia testified that she introduced Weinstein to Mann at the Hollywood Hills party, where Mann seemed “impressed” by the movie mogul. The pair were invited to several parties held by his production company, The Weinstein Company, and had many meetings at hotel bars to discuss their career.
Maia corroborated Mann’s testimony that the pair met with Weinstein in 2013 at the Montage Hotel, where they discussed their acting careers. Weinstein told the pair they “could be really good” as stars in his upcoming movie Vampire Academy, Maia said.
Maia said she was “caught off guard” when “they asked me to go upstairs with him” but she was assured “there was nothing for me to worry about.” She added, “That [the room] was a suite and that they said they would be very, very fast,” she testified.
“I didn’t want to stay in the hotel lobby and look like a hooker so I said, ‘OK, let’s go,’” Maia said. “I was just uncomfortable with the situation. I didn’t want to go up to the room with them. I didn’t know what they were going to do. I knew Jessica was already seeing him.”
Once inside the room, Maia said she “sat on the couch” and “watched TV” while Weinstein and Mann went into the bedroom. When asked why Mann would go into the bedroom without explaining the situation, Maia said, “It was pretty clear what was going on.”
“I had no reason to think there was harm. I got caught off guard,” she said.
Mann said that despite her protests, Weinstein performed oral sex on her, refusing to lighten his grip on her or let her leave until he “did something” for her. Immediately after the alleged assault, Mann said she left the hotel with Maia but never told her friend what happened because she was so “horrified and confused.”
Maia, however, told jurors that Mann looked “normal” after the incident, which “lasted about 10 minutes.”
“She seemed OK. She seemed normal,” Maia said, admitting that if Mann did tell her something that night, “I probably didn’t pay attention because I was uncomfortable.”
When asked during cross-examination whether Mann ever expressed any reservations about Weinstein, Maia admitted, “When we were at the pre-Oscar party [in 2013], Harvey had asked Jessica to stay at one table and Jessica was like, ‘Oh my God, he is so controlling.’”
On March 18, 2013, Mann said she was supposed to meet Weinstein, Maia, and another friend for breakfast in New York City, when the producer unexpectedly showed up at the DoubleTree hotel in Manhattan—and commanded her to undress when they got upstairs to his room. While she initially resisted, she said his grip on her was so tight that she “gave up.”
“Once I was naked and laid on the bed, he went into the bathroom and sort of closed the door behind him. The door was still kind of open a little bit,” Mann said, as she started to cry. “And then he came out naked, and then he got on top of me and that’s when he put himself inside me.”
Maia testified Monday that her friend didn’t seem upset and “seemed like herself” after the alleged assault and never said a word about the encounter. Mann said she never let on to her friends what had happened because she was “so embarrassed” and wanted them to “respect her.”
Mann told jurors she went downstairs for breakfast with her friends and “shut down” as she agreed to join Weinstein for the premiere of August Osage County. Her friend corroborated that they went to the premiere and that Mann stayed with her at her Jersey City apartment instead of returning to her hotel room that night.
After the premiere, Mann said she stayed on Maia’s floor, sleeping inside a closet—while Maia said she slept on a couch. “I had a nice apartment,” Maia said, slightly laughing.
During her testimony, Mann said she tried to distance herself from Weinstein after the New York assault, but continued to communicate and send him flattering emails for her own “safety.”
“For a period of time, they seemed to be romantically involved,” Maia said. “For another period of time, they seemed to be just friends.”
Months later, in November 2013, Mann said Weinstein raped her again after she finally told him about her new relationship with a “well-known actor.”
During cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi grilled Maia about her relationship with Mann, noting that the former roommates no longer communicate after a bitter “falling out in 2016. “
“I don’t dislike Jessica. Jessica did things in my life that impacted my life in a very negative way, in a terrible way, and I wish I didn’t go through that,” Maia said.
In addition to Mann and Haleyi, jurors have also heard from four supporting witnesses: Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein violently raped her in her apartment in 1993 or 1994; Dawn Dunning, who said Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2004; and Tarale Wulff, who was allegedly assaulted by the producer a year later.
The final accuser to testify, model and actress Lauren Young, said Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2013 after luring her to his Beverly Hills hotel room days before the Oscars. Young testified former Miss Mexico and actress Claudia Salinas facilitated the Feb. 19, 2013, meeting and was on the other side of the bathroom door when she was assaulted.
Testifying under subpoena on Monday, the 38-year-old actress, best known for her role in Crossing Over, denied Young’s allegation, stating she never entered the hotel room, stood outside the bathroom, or saw the producer leave “naked” after the alleged assault was over.
“I’m very sure. If I had done that, I would remember that,” Salinas said, calling the whole meeting “pretty uneventful.” “I would never close the door behind anybody, ever.”