Art & Entertainment

In Harvey Weinstein's trial, Social Media Influencer Testifies After Assurance She Won't Be Charged

After being subpoenaed by the prosecution, a social media influencer reluctantly took the stand, after she was given assurances that she would not be charged as Harvey Weinstein's accomplice.

Harvey Weinstein

After being subpoenaed by the prosecution, a social media influencer reluctantly took the stand, after she was given assurances that she would not be charged as Harvey Weinstein's accomplice. 

Claudia Salinas, a dancer and influencer who met Weinstein in the early 2000's, was called by the prosecution, who questioned Salinas as to whether she led Jane Doe #2 up to Weinstein's hotel room where a sexual assault allegedly took place. Salinas disputed the alleged version of events, reports 'Variety'. 

Prior to her testimony, Salinas appeared before the judge on Tuesday with her attorney, Scott Rosenblum, who expressed concerns over her testifying and suggested she might invoke the fifth amendment.

Deputy district attorney Paul Thompson said Rosenblum asked if his client, Salinas, could be charged as an accomplice. 

"I told him I haven't charged her yet, I have no intention of charging her, but it is still within statute," 
Thompson said, before making a statement that she wouldn't be charged, but is not being granted immunity. 

With that, Salinas was called to testify on Wednesday, during which she denied any involvement in helping lure women to Weinstein, including Jane Doe #2, whose name is Lauren Young.

Salinas previously testified in Weinstein's New York trial. During that trial, she also denied any association to Young's allegations.

Young said that she first met Salinas at an industry dinner in 2012 where they spoke about her desire to become a screenwriter. The two became friendly that night and exchanged contact information, and one year later, in February 2013, Young said Salinas texted, asking to meet her and Weinstein for a drink at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. 

Young said she brought a script that she hoped to pitch Weinstein, and later that night, Young alleges she was assaulted by Weinstein upstairs in his hotel suite. 

She claims Salinas helped usher her upstairs and told the jury that as she was "trapped" in the hotel bathroom by Weinstein, she looked in the mirror and saw Salinas closing the door, leaving her alone with Weinstein.

"I saw Claudia Salinas right there. I shot her an evil look," Young testified. 

"She didn't say anything. She looked at me. She had this evil look, like a smirk - like she roped me in on something." 

During her testimony, Salinas said she recalled the cocktail meeting with Young and Weinstein at the Montage, but said she never spoke to Young about any script. When asked by Weinstein's attorney, Mark Werksman, "Did you bring Jane Doe #2 to the meeting to offer her up to Weinstein sexually?" she replied, "Absolutely not." 

"Were you in the business of procuring women for Mr. Weinstein to have sex with?" Werksman asked Salinas. He also asked, "Did you act as a pimp for Mr. Weinstein?" Salinas responded no to both questions. She also testified that she did not see Young go into a hotel bathroom with Weinstein, and did not close a bathroom door behind Young and Weinstein.

"Did you ever stand outside a bathroom while Mr. Weinstein raped someone inside?" Werksman asked. "Absolutely not," Salinas replied. 

When the prosecution questioned Salinas, deputy D.A. Thompson asked about her relationship with Weinstein, and showed the jury emails confirming that Salinas had communicated with Weinstein about setting up meetings with Young.

Thompson pointed out that Salinas was a professional ballerina with essentially no acting credits when she met Weinstein in 2003, and shortly after meeting him, he had cast her in a role as a dancer in his 2004 film, 'Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights'.

Salinas confirmed that she was hired on three films that were produced by Weinstein. When asked if she considered Weinstein to be "someone who could advance your career", Salinas agreed. 

The deputy D.A. questioned Salinas as to how the meeting at the Montage with Young ever came about. He pointed out the age difference between Young, who would have been in her early 20s, and Weinstein, who was around 60 at the time. 

"How many times did you see Mr. Weinstein alone with a woman in her early 20's?" Thompson asked Salinas. The deputy D.A. then asked Salinas if she helped "arrange" or "participate" in meetings with Weinstein and young women.

Salinas said that Weinstein was in town and asked her to meet him for a drink. She never showed up alone, so she brought a friend. Thompson doubled down on why she invited Young, particularly since they hadn't seen each other since they first met a year ago. "I thought she was a nice girl to reconnect with. There was nothing peculiar," Salinas said.

Thompson focused on the word "peculiar", and asked again why she would bring Young of all people. "She was a model. It would be good for her to meet Harvey Weinstein," Salinas said, reports 'Variety'. 

The day after the alleged assault at the Montage, Young was called to The Weinstein Company's offices to meet with one of Weinstein's executives, Barbara Schneeweiss. When Young testified last week, she said she saw Salinas in the waiting room. "I told her, 'Don't f*****g talk to me'. She didn't say anything," Young told the jury. 

On Wednesday, Salinas was asked repeatedly about that meeting with Young and Schneeweiss. She said numerous times that she doesn't remember the meeting, even when the prosecutor showed emails establishing that the meeting occurred. "I'm not asking you this sarcastically. Is there something wrong with your memory?" Thompson asked Salinas. "No, there's nothing wrong with my memory," she replied.

Thompson then showed Salinas the emails pertaining to the meeting. In one email, Weinstein complimented Schneeweiss, writing, "Well done with Claudia and (Jane Doe #2)."

"It looks like I went to that meeting, but I don't remember that meeting," Salinas said on the stand. "I still don't remember that meeting, so it wouldn't be able to tell you," she said, before agreeing that "it appears" she was there.

Aside from that meeting, Weinstein had also invited Young to an Oscars party thrown by The Weinstein Company. Young did not attend, and never saw Weinstein again. But, communications between Salinas and The Weinstein Company show the efforts to bring her to the party. 

The prosecutor told the jury that when Salinas was invited to the Oscars party, she RSVP'd with one of her own friends, but was told by The Weinstein Company that she was only allowed to attend the party with Young as her guest.

"That was a little odd," Salinas admitted.

"Mr. Weinstein wanted to enlist your help" in bringing Young to the party, Thompson suggested. Salinas disagreed.

Thompson then asked if there was any further communication with Weinstein about Young that week, and Salinas paused before answering, "I don't remember."

The deputy D.A. then showed Salinas an email from Weinstein asking Claudia to set up yet another meeting with her and Young. In the emails, Salinas says she has other plans, but writes back to coordinate timing for him to meet with Young. 

"I was offering nothing," Salinas said, combatively disagreeing with Thompson's line of questioning that she was helping Weinstein. "He was a business contact," Salinas said. "I thought if he wanted to meet, why not?"

After roughly three hours on the stand, Salinas was dismissed, appearing rattled as she left the courtroom.