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Weinstein Accuser Testifies He Tried to Trade a Threesome for Acting Roles: ‘This Is How the Industry Works’

This story was updated Jan. 29, 5:45 p.m.Dawn Dunning told a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday that in a meeting with Harvey Weinstein, he requested a threesome with his assistant. And when she turned him down, Dunning said he told her: “This is how the industry works. This is how all the great actresses made it.” Dunning…

Weinstein Accuser Testifies He Tried to Trade a Threesome for Acting Roles: ‘This Is How the Industry Works’

This story was updated Jan. 29, 5:45 p.m.

Dawn Dunning told a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday that in a meeting with Harvey Weinstein, he requested a threesome with his assistant. And when she turned him down, Dunning said he told her: “This is how the industry works. This is how all the great actresses made it.”

Dunning was an aspiring actress when she met the movie mogul in 2004, the New York Times reported. Weinstein suggested he could help further her career, and shortly afterward, they met at a hotel suite-turned-makeshift production studio, according to the Hollywood Reporter. During that meeting, she testified, Weinstein slipped his hand up her skirt and touched her genitals, without her consent.

Dunning was shocked.

“There were no red flags or alerts or anything that would make me expect this to happen,” Dunning recalled during her Wednesday testimony, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “It was a few seconds, but I just kind of froze for a minute and then stood up. He told me not to make a big deal out of it. He apologized, said it wouldn’t happen again, and then we walked back out into the other room.”

A few weeks later, Dunning agreed to meet Weinstein at a New York hotel. She thought they would be discussing film projects.

That’s when, Dunning said, Weinstein tried to pressure her into a threesome with his assistant.

“He kind of cut to the chase and said, ‘Here’s contracts for my next three films. I’ll sign them today — if you have a threesome with me and my assistant,’” Dunning recalled. She laughed, at what she thought was a joke. Then Weinstein began to scream at her. He allegedly insisted that if she didn’t submit to demands like his, she would never succeed in show business. Actresses Charlize Theron and Salma Hayek, he allegedly suggested, had agreed to sleep with him, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In a 2017 New York Times op-ed, Hayek called Weinstein a “monster” who embarked on a prolonged sexual harassment campaign against her. In December 2019, Theron told the Times that Weinstein would drop her name and say she’d slept with him for roles.

(In a series of statements, Weinstein told the Times through a spokesperson that he’d hired Theron for projects exclusively based on her acting prowess. In his first statement, he said he was “frankly surprised” at her comments; in a second, he said, “In this situation, she’s relying on the words of a lawyer who is suing for money.”)

On the stand Wednesday, Dunning said she became afraid when Weinstein yelled at her.

“I ran to the door and literally ran down the hall to the elevator,” she told the courtroom. “He was screaming. He was a big guy, and he was towering over me. I was really scared.”

Dunning is one of a number of women who are taking the stand but whose accounts are not directly linked to the charges facing Weinstein. Instead, their testimony is meant to bolster the prosecution’s portrait of Weinstein and his alleged sexual predation. For example, Dunning said she met Weinstein in hotels — a detail found in many of the stories of the 80-plus women who’ve accused him of sexual harassment and assault. (Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and maintained that all of his sexual encounters were consensual.)

Dunning first came forward to accuse Weinstein in late 2017, shortly after the New York Times and the New Yorker first published explosive accounts of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misbehavior. But while she spoke about the alleged demand for a threesome, she did not initially bring up the groping. And during the cross-examination, the defense zeroed in on that omission.

“For the first time, after all those media interviews and all those interviews with prosecutors, for the first time, you said, ‘Ms. Illuzzi, I have some other information I want to discuss with you,’” attorney Arthur Aidala told Dunning, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (Joan Illuzzi-Orbon is the lead prosecutor on the case.)

Dunning said that prior to the criminal case, she had never told anybody about that first encounter with Weinstein, Variety reported. Telling people about the second had been difficult enough.

“I was embarrassed,” Dunning said. “I wanted to pretend like it didn’t happen. I just didn’t want to be a victim.”

Cover: Harvey Weinstein leaves for the day during his trial on charges of rape and sexual assault, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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