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Harvey Weinstein's defense permitted to use letter from Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife — on how to deal with husband's sex scandal — in trial

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Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein, the 70-year-old convicted rapist who allegedly once coached former President Bill Clinton on how to navigate his Monica Lewinsky scandal, similarly gave counsel to the wife of California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, two years after he allegedly raped her.

The judge presiding over Weinstein's case ruled on Monday that jurors in the trial will be permitted to hear about Siebel Newsom's 2007 letter soliciting advice about her husband's sex scandal. The defense hopes to use the letter and the friendly relationship it may be perceived to imply in order to undermine Siebel Newsom's accusation.

The trial

Weinstein, already serving a 23-year prison sentence for his 2020 rape conviction, is presently on trial for four counts of rape and several sexual assault counts involving Siebel Newsom and four other women.

Four of the incidents allegedly took place during so-called Oscars week 2013, when two of the high-profile Democrat donor's films won Academy Awards.

Siebel Newsom indicated that Weinstein raped her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2004 or 2005.

Siebel Newsom's attorney, Elizabeth Fegan, said last week, "Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein at a purported business meeting that turned out to be a trap. ... She intends to testify at his trial in order to seek some measure of justice for survivors."

Siebel Newsom has worked as an actor and a documentary filmmaker. The 48-year-old wrote an article for the Huffington Post in October 2017 discussing the media and entertainment industry's "open secret" concerning Weinstein's degeneracy. She emphasized how the industry's culture "was so entirely demeaning, disrespectful, and diminishing of women and girls."

"I was naïve, new to the industry, and didn't know how to deal with his aggressive advances―work invitations with a friend late-night at The Toronto Film Festival, and later an invitation to meet with him about a role in The Peninsula Hotel," wrote Newsom. Staff at the hotels "were present and then all of a sudden disappeared like clockwork, leaving me alone with this extremely powerful and intimidating Hollywood legend."

The letter

Siebel Newsom began dating Gavin Newsom in 2006, two years after he was elected mayor of San Francisco. She married him in 2008.

Prior to their nuptials, it was revealed that then-Mayor Newsom had an affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of his reelection campaign manager. Rippey-Tourk told her husband as part of a rehabilitation program she participated in for substance abuse.

Rippey-Tourk, who had been Newsom's appointments secretary since 2004, claimed the affair began when Newsom was still married to Kimberly Guilfoyle.

After the news of Newsom's infidelity broke, Siebel Newsom reportedly emailed Weinstein, asking for advice on how to navigate the scandal.

It is unclear whether Siebel Newsom was taking Weinstein's advice when she deflected blame from Gavin Newsom, publicly denouncing Rippey-Tourk as "the culprit" and claiming the woman had a "checkered history."

Weinstein’s lawyer Mark Werksman suggested, "Of all things you'd think a woman that is raped by Harvey Weinstein wouldn't do, it's [ask him] how to deal with a sex scandal."

Werksman said, "The fact that she comes to Mr. Weinstein for that advice indicates the friendship and companionship of Jane Doe 4 and Mr. Weinstein. ... The defense will be that they had an affair, that they had consensual sex."

Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez called into question Werksman's understanding of the mindset of a rape victim, suggesting that victims "do not react in a matter how someone who has not been raped would think."

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench ruled that Weinstein's defense could introduce as evidence a 2007 email Newsom sent to Weinstein. Lench has prohibited the discussion of the issue underlying the email (i.e., Gavin Newsom's affair) in court.

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