Harvey Weinstein's toughest fight is looming

As an aspiring model and actress from Italy, there was a day Jenny craved the kind of attention she could easily get ...

Posted: May 3, 2018 4:23 AM
Updated: May 3, 2018 4:23 AM

As an aspiring model and actress from Italy, there was a day Jenny craved the kind of attention she could easily get today.

Now, she doesn't even want you to know her name.

Her accusations of rape against Harvey Weinstein are among five such cases under review by the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Of those cases, Jenny is considered the one with the most potential to lead to criminal charges, a source with knowledge of the case told CNN.

"It was hard psychologically," she said. "The interrogation made me come back to the situation very deeply. I was very scared, very down. I was crying."

Jenny isn't the real name of this single mother of three in her late 30s, who requested CNN refer to her by that name because she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her children. As she speaks to CNN in a quiet corner of a Beverly Hills hotel -- her first interview in six months -- she says she has emerged as a confident woman.

"The definition of myself is not a victim, I'm a very strong woman," she said. "I stand up for myself and I will stand up many other times because I have to be an example for my kids."

Through faith, Jenny says she dissolved her feelings of hatred for Weinstein, but is "pre-occupied thinking about him being out."

She's aware of reports he sought treatment in Arizona.

"I see it like a game, like he's not going to jail [because of treatment]," she said. "He's smart. He's been doing this for many years, so this is just a game."

As for her case, Jenny's attorney David Ring told CNN "the investigation is active and ongoing; there's been no lull," he said.

Ring won't permit his client to speak directly about the allegations beyond referring to a Los Angeles Times interview she gave in October, shortly after going to the police. In it, Jenny accuses Weinstein of coming to her hotel room "without warning" after a brief encounter at the Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest in February 2013.

"He... bullied his way into my hotel room, saying, 'I'm not going to [have sex with] you, I just want to talk," she told The Times. "Once inside, he asked me questions about myself, but soon became very aggressive and demanding and kept asking to see me naked."

Jenny told the paper she begged him to go away, but that he "grabbed me by the hair and forced me to do something I did not want to do," she said. "He then dragged me to the bathroom and forcibly raped me."

Through a spokesperson, Weinstein has repeatedly denied all allegations of "non-consensual sex."

Six months have passed since Jenny told her story to LAPD detectives, and she remains confident her emotional journey will lead to charges.

"I believe it's in God's hands," she said. "I can't imagine this not going in a good way. Everything will go how it has to be."

Legal experts say that the six-month timespan without charges in the case may stem from the fact Jenny did not go to the police in 2013. It was only after reports about Weinstein's alleged misconduct in The New York Times and The New Yorker, fueling the #MeToo movement, that Jenny chose to come forward.

The D.A.'s office is likely interviewing as many people as it can to verify the story, said Dmitry Gorin, a former L.A. County sex crimes prosecutor.

"The family, her priest, the friends," he said. "Did she complain to them soon after the fact? Those are called fresh complaint interviews. And those are people they're going to want to interview to assess her credibility."

A spokesperson for the district attorney declined to comment on the case.

Empowered by the Cosby case

The guilty verdict against Bill Cosby has empowered Jenny and Ring, her attorney, who sees similarities in the Weinstein case.

"Multiple alleged victims, a long history of alleged misconduct," Ring said. "The difference between the first trial [that ended in a mistrial] and the second trial is that they used the law to allow other victims to testify" in support of Cosby's primary accuser, he said.

California has a similar law that would allow prosecutors to bring additional accusers in to testify in support of a primary accuser. Legal experts say it's likely to be key to any case against Weinstein in California since the alleged incidents are years old and reliable physical evidence likely doesn't exist.

"These cases require showing criminal intent, and one way to do that is introducing prior bad acts," said former L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley. "Assuming there's even charges, there would be hearings conducted by the courts to conclude how many prior bad acts would be admissible."

But others say drawing parallels between the Cosby and Weinstein cases is futile.

"I think [the public] should not think of this as the moment everything changes," said Lisa Wayne, a criminal defense attorney and former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

She argues it was not the testimony of accusers, but the controversial use of Cosby's deposition in a prior civil case that was his undoing. In it, Cosby admitted to obtaining prescription Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with.

"It's an unheard of precedent when you bring in prior statements of the accused who believes he made statements he thought were protected," Wayne said. "The Cosby case is only proof that prosecutors are politicians."

She adds that without such dramatic evidence from the accused, a case against Weinstein would play out much differently.

The Time's Up movement -- created by female leaders in entertainment in the wake of the Weinstein scandal -- hailed the Cosby verdict as "a step towards making it clear to all that the voices of survivors will be heard and assault and harassment will no longer be tolerated."

Wayne, who is based in Denver but represents clients all over the country, says there's a fear in the criminal defense world that a pack mentality has formed among the public, where defendants are tried and convicted on social media, influencing prosecutors to satisfy the public instead of the law.

"I think of it as how we are two political parties -- we're disconnected on the issues that matter," she said. "As a woman I think it's [the MeToo movement] important, but it's important to move forward in a way that has legal traction."

"Twitter is not a friend of due process"

As high-profile as Harvey Weinstein is today, his attorney, Blair Berk, is remarkably low profile.

She largely refuses to do interviews, arguing that it only does a disservice to her clients. But as a panelist last week at a legal conference at L.A.'s Loyola Law School, Berk offered a window into the frustrating world of defending a man who has inspired a cultural shift in America.

"History teaches us that there can be so much good [with this movement]," Berk said. "But there are also things that come with that movement that can be dangerous to the cause of justice."

"Twitter is not a friend of due process," she added. "It is a time like no other I've experienced in 25 years of practice of criminal defense."

Berk pointed to comments from a Beverly Hills police sergeant, also on the panel, who said he gets frequent calls from tabloid websites asking when there will be movement in the Weinstein case.

Related: The fallout since the Weinstein scandal first rocked Hollywood

"The idea that you have a tabloid media outlet calling up every day," Berk said, "saying 'what have you done... are you prosecuting this guy'... we have to accept that it creates an enormous pressure on the system to hold press conferences and say you're doing something."

Berk later told CNN "it's incredibly dangerous for the public to presume guilt" even with a high volume of accusers. She points to the case of another client, Michael Bernback, who appeared on Bravo's "Millionaire Matchmaker." He was charged in 2015 with eight felony counts including forcible rape -- all connected to sexual encounters he set up through dating websites.

The charges were dropped on Tuesday when Berk "presented evidence to prosecutors that contradicted the claims of his accusers," she said in a statement, telling CNN the case should be a reminder about the importance of due process.

"[It] should never be treated as a bothersome or unnecessary formality," she said.

The L.A. District Attorney's Office did not comment beyond acknowledging that the charges had been dropped.

Regardless, David Ring said he would be "shocked" if charges weren't brought against Weinstein in Jenny's case, and rejects the notion that her allegations were drawn out by the #MeToo movement with little legal heft.

"You have more than 80 women who have come forward, that's not a pack mentality," Ring told CNN. "Those are allegations of serious sexual misconduct... and that's why it's so important to have this case go forward."

The high-profile accusations against Weinstein and Hollywood director James Toback are part of why the L.A. District Attorney's Office formed a sex crimes task force last year. To date, it has received 15 cases from investigating agencies, said Christina Buckley, who leads the unit.

"We had anticipated an influx of cases -- that hasn't happened so far," said Buckley, who also appeared on the Loyola panel.

At issue for many of the cases is the statute of limitations. All five cases against Toback, who denied the allegations, were dropped in early April, four because they fell out of statute.

Jenny's case against Weinstein falls within the statute of limitation laws in place at the time of the alleged incident. As of 2016, there is no longer a statute of limitations for rape in California.

"Truth always wins"

Jenny says she used to feel alone, but since bringing her case to authorities and witnessing other women speak out, she has grown stronger.

"I'm not afraid like I was all those years before," she said. "I was scared to death... but I have to be an example now for my kids."

Jenny says she will be content if Weinstein is charged in any of the open cases -- it doesn't have to be hers. Authorities in New York and London are also investigating Weinstein for alleged sex crimes.

"I just believe in justice," she said. "The truth always wins. If it comes from a different case, so be it."

She added that one of the reasons she's speaking now is to inspire other women -- not just ones with claims against Weinstein, "but in any cases -- domestic violence," she said.

"You have to be strong, you have to stand up for yourself. You can't do it for anyone else," she said. "You have to do it for you.

"A lot of people don't believe in justice, and I want them to believe you can."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61839

Reported Deaths: 1707
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19569839
Ramsey7717268
Dakota4507106
Anoka3752115
Stearns290920
Washington216345
Nobles17686
Olmsted176723
Scott159020
Mower11052
Rice10388
Blue Earth9325
Wright8975
Carver8783
Clay78840
Sherburne7328
Kandiyohi7021
St. Louis57319
Todd4292
Lyon4253
Freeborn3601
Steele3512
Nicollet34713
Watonwan3230
Benton3203
Winona26416
Beltrami2440
Crow Wing23814
Le Sueur2261
Martin2095
Chisago2041
McLeod2020
Goodhue1999
Otter Tail1983
Cottonwood1780
Becker1611
Pipestone1589
Polk1554
Waseca1490
Itasca14612
Douglas1441
Carlton1420
Unassigned13141
Dodge1290
Isanti1290
Pine1290
Murray1241
Chippewa1071
Morrison931
Wabasha930
Brown892
Faribault890
Meeker872
Rock850
Sibley842
Koochiching793
Jackson790
Pennington751
Cass742
Mille Lacs723
Fillmore670
Renville665
Lincoln580
Grant563
Swift551
Yellow Medicine520
Roseau520
Pope480
Houston420
Aitkin411
Norman400
Kanabec371
Redwood360
Hubbard350
Wilkin343
Marshall290
Wadena270
Mahnomen271
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle80
Cook50
Lake of the Woods40
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49380

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10444208
Woodbury373452
Black Hawk315766
Linn242888
Johnson211819
Dallas189835
Buena Vista179412
Scott174314
Dubuque169831
Marshall145026
Pottawattamie133228
Story117315
Wapello90533
Muscatine85148
Webster8268
Crawford7313
Sioux6433
Cerro Gordo63417
Warren5721
Tama55429
Jasper48127
Wright4751
Plymouth47011
Clinton4164
Dickinson3844
Louisa37814
Washington30510
Boone2623
Hamilton2511
Franklin24512
Bremer2307
Clarke2043
Clay2011
Carroll1942
Emmet1934
Des Moines1872
Shelby1861
Hardin1840
Marion1750
Poweshiek1608
Benton1601
Floyd1582
Allamakee1564
Jackson1561
Mahaska14217
Guthrie1355
Cedar1341
Jones1332
Buchanan1291
Henry1274
Madison1252
Butler1252
Hancock1212
Lee1183
Humboldt1181
Pocahontas1172
Delaware1171
Lyon1152
Harrison1101
Cherokee1101
Clayton1063
Taylor1000
Winneshiek971
Iowa971
Page950
Monona910
Kossuth900
Mills890
Palo Alto880
Jefferson870
Calhoun862
Winnebago860
Sac860
Fayette850
Osceola840
Grundy801
Mitchell790
Cass791
Union781
Monroe748
Lucas734
Worth670
Davis612
Montgomery604
Chickasaw550
Appanoose513
Howard500
Fremont430
Greene430
Keokuk371
Van Buren361
Ida310
Adair300
Audubon291
Decatur250
Ringgold231
Wayne201
Adams160
Unassigned10
Rochester
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Mason City
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Albert Lea
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Austin
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Charles City
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
One more chance for rain
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

MSHSL releases guidelines for fall training sessions

Image

Hagedorn Introduces Livestock Relief Bill

Image

A Closer Look at Boating Safety

Image

Funding child care during the work week

Image

Rochester leaders consider their successors

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast - Wednesday

Image

Sara;s 6pm Forecast - Wednesday

Image

Clear Lake school projects

Image

Mower County Fair Virtual Tour

Image

Racial Equality for Civic Engagement

Community Events