A young aspiring actress whose allegation of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein led to criminal charges in Southern California took the stand in his criminal trial in New York City on Wednesday, accusing him of groping her while masturbating in a Los Angeles hotel room.
Lauren Young, a Pennsylvania native who was 23 at the time of the alleged 2013 attack, is the last of six women to testify against Weinstein in Manhattan, where the fallen Hollywood mogul faces five counts of sexual assault and life in prison if convicted.
Young, who had not told her story in public before, is one of two women whose allegations led Los Angeles County prosecutors to file nine charges of rape and sexual misconduct against Weinstein in early January.
In court Wednesday, Young said she had been living in Los Angeles for three years when she first met Weinstein in February 2013 in the restaurant of the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Young said she put on her best dress for the occasion. “I was excited to network and pitch my ideas,” she said.
Young said a recent acquaintance, who was also present at the Montage that night, arranged the meeting with Weinstein to talk about Young’s unfinished script. After talking briefly at the restaurant over drinks, Weinstein told both women that he needed to go up to his room because he had to prepare to accept an award with Quentin Tarantino that night, Young said.
The mogul asked if they could continue the conversation there. Young said that once they entered Weinstein’s hotel room, she unwittingly followed the producer into the bathroom, with the other woman trailing behind her. The bathroom was at the end of a hallway attached to the bedroom, Young said, so she didn’t realize where she was being led.
As Young stepped into the bathroom, she said, she looked into a mirror and saw the other woman closing the door, leaving Young alone with the producer. Weinstein entered the shower, turned it on and started undressing, she said.
“It was as quick as I’ve ever seen anyone undress,” Young said.
As Young attempted to leave, she realized that the other woman was blocking the door from the outside, she said.
“That’s when I realized this was set up, she put me in here,” Young testified.
As Young approached the door, Weinstein moved closer to her and prevented her from leaving, she said.
“I just couldn’t believe what was happening to me,” she said. “I was really worried and scared that they were going to hurt me or something.”
Young said Weinstein then backed her toward the sink, and she turned away because she didn’t want to look at his naked body. Weinstein then began to undress her as Young said “No” repeatedly, she alleged.
Her voice cracked in court as she recalled how she told the producer that she wasn’t interested and that she had a boyfriend. Weinstein then forcefully grabbed and pinched her breast with one hand while masturbating with the other, Young said.
She said Weinstein attempted to touch her vagina, but she blocked him with her hands. Weinstein left the bathroom after ejaculating onto a towel and Young pulled up her dress, she said. She fled shortly afterward, giving the other woman an “evil look” as she left.
Young said she was never sexually attracted to Weinstein and did not express any romantic interest in him. She did not have any other encounters with him after the alleged incident at the Montage, she said.
The next day, Young said she met the movie mogul’s assistant, Barbara Schneeweiss — a meeting that was set up before the alleged assault, she said.
“I thought maybe Harvey would be there and I was going to tell him off,” she said. Weinstein was not present when she arrived.
At the meeting, Schneeweiss told Young she would be great for a role in “America’s Next Top Model,” but Young said she was not interested in reality TV, she told the jury.
Prosecutors showed an email sent from Schneeweiss to Young after the meeting, in which Schneeweiss asked Young for her resume and headshot. Young did not respond to that email or a follow-up email from Schneeweiss.
Authorities in Los Angeles and New York have not confirmed that Young is the same woman identified as “Jane Doe No. 2" in Southern California filings, but Young’s description of the assault was the same as the alleged attack laid out in court papers made public in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has also confirmed that one of the accusers in their case would be testifying as a prior bad acts witness in the New York case.
In Los Angeles County, the accusations made by Young and an Italian model led prosecutors to charge Weinstein with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint on the eve of his New York trial. He faces up to 28 years in state prison if convicted of all counts in California.
Some have accused Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey of timing the filing of the charges for maximum political gain as she faces a tough reelection bid against former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon and former public defender Rachel Rossi.
Legal experts have also warned that by first telling her story in New York, Young will be much more susceptible to cross-examination in Los Angeles, where Weinstein’s defense team will have months, if not years, to search for ways to undermine her.
Weinstein’s attorneys have denied the mogul did anything wrong and claimed each encounter described by witnesses in the New York case was consensual.
Young’s testimony followed that of Jessica Mann, who described violent sexual assaults at Weinstein’s hands in Los Angeles and New York, including a 2013 attack at a Manhattan hotel that prompted some of the charges for which he now stands trial. Mann also said they had several consensual sexual encounters over the five years they maintained contact.
On Wednesday, defense attorney Damon Cheronis aimed to poke holes in Young’s timeline of her allegation, pointing out that Young told investigators as recently as 2019 that the assault had occurred in 2012, not 2013 as she alleged on the stand.
Young said she was unable to access her email account at the time to confirm the dates, as she had lost her password.
“It’s not that hard to reset a Google password, is it?” Cheronis replied.
Cheronis also noted that Young previously told investigators that she had pounded and tugged on the door during the alleged assault, an account that differed from the one she relayed to the jury Wednesday.
Young said that when she first talked to investigators she hadn’t yet started therapy, which helped her resolve her trauma around the assault and remember it more clearly.
Cross-examination of Young is scheduled to continue Thursday.