Weinstein had 'red flag list' of women likely to speak to journalists about his sexual past, private eye claims

Harriet Alexander
Harvey Weinstein arriving at the trial in New York  - Getty Images North America

An “agitated” Harvey Weinstein called a private investigator asking him to look into a “red flag list” of women likely to speak to journalists about his sexual behaviour, a court has heard.

Mr Anson told jurors in Weinstein’s rape trial that he was contacted by Weinstein in 2017, while working for Custom Information Services Inc., a specialised investigations firm focused on the Americas. 

He told the court the film producer was “agitated, concerned” and worried about women speaking to journalists regarding his sexual activity.

“Generally the people on the list were those he suspected may be speaking to journalists,” said Mr Anson.

“He was concerned that articles would be written about him that would expose his sexual activity in a negative way.”

He was asked about the list of women, provided to Mr Anson by Weinstein’s team. Some of the women were marked with red flags – among them actress Annabella Sciorra, who testified on Thursday that she was raped by Weinstein, now 67, in her own home in 1993 or 94.

“In the course of our conversations, it (the list) was to help him understand who was speaking to journalists, and generally that people may be seeking to extort him,” said Mr Anson, under cross-examination by Weinstein’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala.

“Did he say someone might be trying to extort him?” asked Mr Aidala.

“He said a woman named Rose McGowan.”

Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, prosecuting, asked: “When you spoke to Harvey Weinstein himself, was he concerned that people were talking about his sexual conduct against women?”

Mr Anson replied: “Yes, among other things.”

Forensic Psychiatrist Dr Barbara Ziv leaves the courtroom after testifying in film producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial in New York Credit: Mike Segar /Reuters

Earlier the jury heard from a forensic psychiatrist that 85 per cent of victims of sexual assault and rape know their attacker, and many of them do not fight back.

Dr Barbara Ziv, whose testimony helped put Bill Cosby behind bars, was brought in by the prosecution to discuss “rape myths” and explain how victims frequently respond.

“One of the reasons I am allowed to testify in this court about sexual trauma is because people come to a sexual assault case with preconceived notions, and they are usually wrong,” she said.

She told the seven men and five women of the jury that the attack by a stranger down a dark alleyway was the exception, not the rule, in rape cases.

Most women know their attacker; only 20-40 per cent fight back.

“Very few run,” she said. “Physical resistance, other than struggling, is rare. The most common response is kicking. This idea that women respond by screaming, punching – it happens, but it is rare.”

She added that the “vast majority” of women who are sexually assaulted do not report it promptly, noting that the department of justice considers it the most under-reported crime.

“Perpetrators of sexual assault not only own a woman physically – controlling their body – but often there are also threats implied. If you tell anyone this, it’ll ruin you. No one will believe you.

“Sometimes there is an implied threat, sometimes an explicit threat.

“They can ruin their lives, even more profoundly than being assaulted.”

The Philadelphia-based psychiatrist, who has over the course of 20 years been sent more than 1,000 registered sex offenders, to assess their risk to the community, said that victims often demonstrated apparently counter-intuitive behaviour.

“Another common myth is they will not return to the perpetrator,” she said. “That contact can vary from texts to maintaining a relationship, or even forming a relationship when one was not there before.”

Weinstein, 67, listened impassively, taking notes on a yellow legal jotter as Dr Ziv presented the jury with a Powerpoint presentation on rape myths.

He is accused of five counts of sexual assault and rape, based on accusations made by two women. He denies all of the charges.

Both of the women, Jessica Mann and Mimi Haleyi, had multiple encounters with Weinstein, with Ms Mann continuing to see Weinstein for several years after the alleged rape – inviting him to meet her mother, and emailing him saying she resented “feeling like a booty call”.

Prosecutors said in Wednesday’s opening statements that she was powerless and afraid.

“The Jessica that you will meet during this trial is a much stronger woman than the one who was Harvey Weinstein’s ragdoll many years ago,” said Meghan Hast, for the prosecution.

After an hour of testimony on behalf of the prosecution, Damon Cheronis, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, began cross-examination.

Mr Cheronis attempted to use a previous case in which Dr Ziv testified that the accuser was unreliable to present her professional opinion as depending which side she was on.

“That’s a distortion of what I’m saying,” she responded, exasperated, at one point.

She drew amusement from the courtroom when, in frustration, she reiterated: “To consent you have to agree, before the event, that you want sex.”

Weinstein’s trial is expected to last until March. If convicted he could face life in prison.