Mel Gibson can testify in Harvey Weinstein assault trial, judge rules
Mel Gibson can be called upon to testify in Harvey Weinstein's Los Angeles rape and sexual assault trial, a judge ruled on Friday, reports the Associated Press.
The controversial actor's name was among those revealed as potential witnesses in Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Lisa B. Lench said Gibson could testify about what he says he learned from one of Weinstein's accusers, known as Jane Doe No. 3, about her alleged encounter with the disgraced movie producer.
Prosecutors claimed that in May 2010 a naked Weinstein followed the woman into a Beverly Hills hotel bathroom after receiving a massage from her and masturbated. Weinstein is accused of four counts of rape and seven counts of sexual assault involving five women in the trial, which began jury selection on Monday. He has pled not guilty and denied any nonconsensual sexual activity.
Steve Granitz/FilmMagic); Etienne Laurent-Pool/Getty Mel Gibson; Harvey Weinstein
Weinstein's lawyers objected to Gibson being allowed to take the stand, citing that Gibson obtained information about the incident while getting his own massage and, as such, it was not a "fresh complaint." Per California law, a "fresh complaint" allows the introduction of evidence of sexual assault or another crime if the victim reported it to another individual within a short period of time after it occurred.
However, prosecution responded that Gibson understood that Weinstein had sexually assaulted the woman after she had an emotional reaction when the 66-year-old actor mentioned him. While Gibson could not recall when the moment took place, prosecutors say they will call an additional witness, Allison Weiner, who spoke with the woman and Gibson back in 2015.
The judge noted, however, that her decision to allow Gibson to testify could change depending on Jane Doe No. 3's forthcoming testimony.
One of Weinsten's attorneys, Mark Werksman, also claimed that, should Gibson be allowed to testify, prosecutors should be allowed to cross-examine him about his history of anti-Semitic and racist remarks.
Gibson previously launched into an anti-Semitic tirade against a police officer in a leaked recording from his 2006 D.U.I arrest. His ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, later accused him of physical assault and released a secret recording of him hurling racist comments at her in 2010. Gibson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of battering Grigorieva in 2011, under a deal that would allow him to avoid jail and deny liability for the incident in any civil litigation. A judge of Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, accepted the plea and sentenced Gibson to 36 months of probation.
Judge Lench stated that Gibson's history of racist remarks was not relevant to the case but that she would allow prosecution to question the star about whether or not he had any animosity or personal bias toward Weinstein.
Werksman then claimed that there were already grounds for bias because his client is Jewish and once criticized Gibson's portrayal of Jewish people in his 2004 film The Passion of the Christ in a book.
"Any evidence of Mr. Gibson's racism or anti-Semitism would give rise to a bias against my client, who challenged him," he said, per the Associated Press. Weinstein's lawyers also suggested that Gibson was attempting to rectify his tarnished image by testifying against their client and positioning himself as an ally of the greater #MeToo movement.
The prosecution denounced the claims, asserting that Gibson had made no such comments about himself, and that at the time he mentioned Weinstein to the masseuse, Gibson was attempting to broker a deal with the producer.
Gibson previously spoke about the scandal surrounding Weinstein in 2017, telling The Guardian that he considered alleged victims speaking out "a precursor to change."
EW has reached out to Gibson's representatives, who declined to comment.
Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence in New York after he was convicted of rape and sexual assault in 2020. He was granted a chance to appeal the conviction in August. His Los Angeles trial is expected to last eight weeks.
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