Entertainment

Woman says Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her twice at TIFF, 17 years apart

A woman testified Monday that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the Toronto International Film Festival in 1991, then did it again when she went to confront him in the same hotel during the same festival 17 years later.

Her testimony appears to be the 1st time she has told her story in a public setting

Close up of an unsmiling individual sitting at courtroom table wearing a blue suit and blue tie.
A woman testified Monday that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the Toronto International Film Festival in 1991, then did it again when she went to confront him in the same hotel during the same festival 17 years later. (Etienne Laurent/Reuters)

WARNING: This article contains references to sexual abuse and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​abuse or know someone affected by it. 


A woman testified Monday that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the Toronto International Film Festival in 1991, then did it again when she went to confront him in the same hotel during the same festival 17 years later.

Kelly Sipherd told a Los Angeles jury that she was a 24-year-old aspiring actor at the 1991 festival and didn't know who Weinstein was before she met him at a party.

She said her friends there were abuzz about the man whose company Miramax had surged to the forefront of independent film and was making its mark at the Oscars.

Sipherd said she was charmed by Weinstein at first as they discussed books and films.

"We got along very well," she said. "He was very intelligent. We had a wonderful conversation."

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The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused, but Sipherd agreed through her attorney on Monday to be named.

She said the two of them left the party for a glass of wine at a nearby cafe, then she went with him to his room at the Four Seasons Hotel because he said he had a script for a film with a role that would be perfect for her.

Once there, she said he went into the bathroom and emerged wearing only an open shirt and holding a hot washcloth, Sipherd testified.

"It all happened very, very very quickly," she said. "I was in shock. It was so unexpected."

She said he pulled her skirt off, put the washcloth on her and told her "my wife loves this."

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She testified that she felt "nauseous, scared, terrified" and repeatedly told him to stop and asked "what are you doing?"

She said he held her down and sexually assaulted her with his mouth and his hand. He then climbed on top of her and started to rape her but she was able to slip away and leave the room.

Sipherd testified that Weinstein called her at home repeatedly in the weeks that followed, and she often hung up, but eventually spoke to him.

"The encounter that you describe sounds horrifying," Jackson attorney Alan Jackson told Sipherd in his cross-examination, saying Weinstein seemed like someone one would cross the street to avoid at all costs. "But you didn't walk the other way, or cross the street, or spit on him, you actually took his phone calls."

Sipherd eventually accepted an offer from him to come to New York and talk to a woman who does casting for him, but took a friend with plans to keep her constantly at her side.

"Your rapist was persuasive in trying to get you to come with him to see him in New York?" he asked. Sipherd replied, "yes."

In New York, she said Weinstein called her in her hotel room from the lobby and told her to get rid of her friend and he was coming up. She refused, and left New York having never seen him or the casting agent.

Weinstein not charged 

Already serving a 23-year sentence in New York, Weinstein, 70, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving five women in Los Angeles and has denied engaging in any non-consensual sex.

He is not charged with the alleged assaults described in Monday's testimony. Sipherd, along with three others, is being allowed to testify so prosecutors can attempt to show Weinstein's propensity for the crimes he's charged with.

Sipherd testified that she did not see Weinstein again until 2008, when she was 41 and temporarily living at the Four Seasons with her husband and children. She ran into Weinstein in the lobby during that year's festival.

"My blood kind of stopped," she said. "I was very angry."

When Weinstein's assistant came to her room to say he wanted to meet with her, she agreed.

"I wanted to confront him," she said. "I felt like I was ready to give it to him."

Once in his room, she remembered asking, "How does it feel to be in front of the one woman who said no to you?"

Weinstein then dismissed his assistant from the room, and quickly guided her toward a door. She said before she realized it she was in a closed bathroom with Weinstein, where he was blocking her way out.

She said Weinstein grabbed her breasts and masturbated in front of her before letting her leave the room.

'I was mortified and in shock'

Jackson said it sounded like Weinstein "escorted" her into the bathroom "politely."

She replied that she didn't know she was being led into the bathroom. Jackson asked why she didn't leave, or make greater efforts to sound an alarm.

"You find yourself for the second time alone with this rapist and you didn't scream?" he asked.

"I was mortified and in shock," Sipherd said.

Sipherd said she didn't tell anyone about the second assault for years because of the "sheer embarrassment" of having it happen again.

"I was in shock," she said. "So embarrassed, just so embarrassed."

Her testimony appears to be the first time she has told her story in a public setting.


Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911. 

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