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Weinstein accuser takes stand in LA after New York testimony

Source image: https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/weinstein-accuser-takes-stand-la-york-testimony-92819089

LOS ANGELES — The New York trial of Harvey Weinstein and its California sequel had a rare crossover Monday as the only accuser of the former movie magnate to testify at both took the stand in Los Angeles and said she was sexually assaulted by him in a Beverly Hills hotel bathroom in 2013 while repeatedly telling him “no.”

Lauren Young said she was paralyzed by fear when Harvey Weinstein blocked her from leaving the bathroom, masturbated in front of her and groped her breasts.

“I was scared of Harvey Weinstein — that he would hurt me, or send someone to hurt me, or ruin my career, or make my life hell,” Young told the court.

When Young testified in New York in February of 2020, she was not one of the accusers whose stories would lead to Weinstein’s conviction for rape and sexual assault and a 23-year prison sentence. But prosecutors called on her to testify to help establish a pattern of Weinstein preying on women.

In Los Angeles, Weinstein is charged with sexual battery by restraint for the same allegations.

Young said Monday that in early 2013, she was a model who was aspiring to be an actress and screenwriter, and through Weinstein’s assistant, who had become a friend, she set up a meeting with him at the Montage Hotel on the night of Feb. 19, 2013, about a script she was working on.

During the meeting, Weinstein said she should accompany him to his room to continue the talk while he got ready for an event.

Young said Weinstein led her into the room and then the bathroom, and his assistant shut the door behind them and left them alone.

She said she was stunned as he quickly shed his suit and got briefly in the shower, then stepped out and blocked her from leaving when she went for the door.

“I was disgusted,” she said. “I had never seen a big guy like that naked.”

She said she backed up against a sink and turned away from him. He then unzipped her dress and groped her with one hand as he masturbated with the other.

Weinstein’s attorney Alan Jackson gave the two-week-old trial rare moments of visual drama with a pair of clothing demonstrations during cross-examination.

He pulled out the dress Young had been wearing that night and got her to acknowledge that a DNA test failed to prove Weinstein had touched it.

Jackson also tried to cast doubt on whether Weinstein could have slipped out of his suit as quickly as she described. He pulled off his own suit coat to demonstrate.

“I’m just going to take my jacket off, I’m not going to go any further,” Jackson said.

“Please don’t,” Young answered.

When asked how Weinstein could have unfastened everything so quickly, Young answered that he may have gotten started while he was walking down the hall, a method she used to use for quick changes as a model.

“Does Mr. Weinstein strike you as a model?” Jackson asked.

“No, but he’s definitely a monster,” Young replied.

Like all of the women Weinstein is charged with sexually assaulting at the trial, Young is going by Jane Doe in court. The Associated Press typically does not publish the names of people alleging sexual assault unless they give their consent, as Young has done through her lawyer.

Young’s testimony closely hewed to her account during the New York trial. But during cross-examination, Jackson pointed out that it differed in many respects from her early accounts to police starting in 2018, when she called a hotline set up for reports about Weinstein after the #MeToo movement exploded.

Young initially told detectives that the assault had taken place a year earlier, days after she had been at a dinner with Weinstein at a Beverly Hills restaurant. Jackson pointed out that she was saying the same as recently as 2020.

“I was sure that I was sexually assaulted,” Young said.

“That wasn’t my question,” the lawyer replied. “I’m asking about the time. Something that would stick in your mind.”

Jackson also brought up her previous confusion about the site of the assault, and she acknowledged that she could not name the hotel in her first three interviews with authorities, the most recent in 2020.

“I had pushed it out of my memory,” Young said.

She decided it was the Montage when police suggested it and took her to the suite where Weinstein had been staying.

“And since then your testimony and your statements have gotten far more detailed and far more colorful, right?” Jackson said.

“My trauma, I got to relive it by walking through that room,” Young said. “I had been in other rooms and didn’t feel anything. When I walked in that room, I felt everything flow back in.”

According to allegations in an indictment and court testimony, the assault of Young came the day after Weinstein raped an Italian model at a different hotel during the run-up to that year’s Academy Awards, where Weinstein was annually a major player.

Weinstein, 70, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving five women. He has said that many of those incidents were consensual, though in the case of Young his defense denies there was any sexual interaction at all.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

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For more on the Harvey Weinstein trial, visit https://apnews.com/hub/harvey-weinstein.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/weinstein-accuser-takes-stand-la-york-testimony-92819089

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Vatican Swiss Guard slayings back in spotlight with new book

ROME — The mother of a Swiss Guard member accused of committing one of the most sensational crimes in recent Vatican history – fatally shooting his commander and the senior officer’s wife before killing himself — is turning to the United Nations and Pope Francis in hopes of getting some closure nearly a quarter-century after the slayings.

Muguette Baudat was on hand Tuesday as her lawyer, Laura Sgro, a veteran defense attorney in Vatican criminal trials, detailed her efforts to pry information out of the Vatican and access the court file into the May 4, 1998 slayings that are recounted in Sgro’s new book, “Blood in the Vatican.”

“I’ve been waiting for more than 24 years, so I don’t expect anything,” Baudat said at a book launch event. But she added: “The book is very important.”

Within hours of the slayings, the Vatican spokesman announced that Baudat’s 23-year-old son, Cedric Tornay, a noncommissioned Swiss Guard officer, had killed Col. Alois Estermann and Estermann’s Venezuelan-born wife, Gladys Meza Romero, with his service revolver and then turned the gun on himself. The spokesman said a buildup of resentment over a reprimand by Estermann and the denial of a decoration, combined with a ″peculiar″ psychology, led to Tornay’s violent acts.

Nine months later, in February 1999, the Vatican released a 10-page summary of its internal investigation that confirmed its initial assessment. It concluded that Tornay was solely responsible for the murder-suicide but added that his marijuana use and a brain cyst the size of a pigeon’s egg could have impaired his reasoning.

Baudat spent two decades campaigning for more information and hired Sgro in 2019, asking for the Vatican investigation to be reopened. She said her request was not spurred by a belief that the Vatican was responsible, but rather to end the secrecy with which it has always handled the case.

Last year, the Vatican secretary of state intervened personally in the case and asked the Vatican tribunal to pay “particular attention” to Baudat’s request. Sgro was granted access to the court file.

In the book, Sgro details what she found in the file, as well as the conditions imposed on her by the Vatican prosecutor for viewing it: She wasn’t allowed to make copies but could only view the documentation in the tribunal, with two gendarmes standing behind her back monitoring her at all times. She was allowed to take some notes but not too many since she was explicitly barred from copying the text. She had to submit her notes to the prosecutors’ office after each viewing session, which took place over the course of a year.

And what she discovered in reading the court file, she said Tuesday, “confirmed all the doubts that the mother had about an investigation conducted in an absolutely superficial way.”

Sgro noted that at least 20 people were allowed access to the crime scene in the moments after the slayings, including chaplains, monsignors and the Vatican spokesman, none of whom wore protective gear. No fingerprints or blood samples were taken, and no DNA tests performed.

A handwriting analysis of a letter, purportedly from Tornay to his mother and foreshadowing the killings, was done on a photocopy, not the original document. The corpses were moved around the Estermann apartment, as was furniture, according to 38 photographs taken by a Vatican newspaper photographer that were in the court file. Autopsies were performed not in a hospital morgue but in the crypt of a chapel inside the Vatican walls.

“After one hour, Cedric was given up as the guilty one and the investigation was built around this, and this is absolutely the most alarming thing,” Sgro said.

The lawyer alleged that the conditions in which she was forced to work to view the file, as well as the mother’s long fight to find information about her son, constituted human rights violations that should be taken up by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

There was no indication Tuesday whether the U.N. might take up her case, since such complaints must show a consistent pattern of “gross violations” of human rights, such as the policy of apartheid in South Africa.

Sgro said she had little other recourse since the Holy See is not a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, and therefore not a party to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where such appeals would normally be heard. The Holy See enjoys observer status at the U.N. and has received criticism from U.N. human rights experts over the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Sgro said she sent a copy of “Blood in the Vatican” to Pope Francis and he responded with a personal letter. His response, she said, gave her hope that the Vatican might be ready to acknowledge that its original investigation was flawed and that Tornay’s legacy might somehow be rehabilitated even if he is confirmed as the killer.

“It’s a small drop after 24 years of silence,” Sgro said. “Let us hope this drop becomes a glass of water, then a lake.”

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Clarence Gilyard, ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Matlock’ actor, dies at 66

Clarence Gilyard Jr., a popular supporting actor whose credits include the blockbuster films “Die Hard” and “Top Gun” and the hit television series “Matlock” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” has died at age 66

NEW YORK — Clarence Gilyard Jr., a popular supporting actor whose credits include the blockbuster films “Die Hard” and “Top Gun” and the hit television series “Matlock” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” has died at age 66.

His death was announced this week by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he taught stage and screen acting. Additional details were not immediately available Tuesday.

“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV,” the school’s film chair, Heather Addison, said in a statement. “Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years.”

Gilyard was a Moses Lake, Washington, native. He had a prolific career as an actor, starting in the 1980s with appearances in “Diff’rent Strokes,” ”The Facts of Life” and other shows. He then appeared in two of the biggest movies of the decade: “Top Gun,” in which he played Sundown, a radar intercept officer, and “Die Hard,” when he was featured as a villainous computer maven whose one liners included “You didn’t bring me along for my charming personality.”

In the 1990s, he was on the side of law enforcement in “Matlock,” playing opposite Andy Griffith, and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which starred Chuck Norris. His other credits include “The Karate Kid: Part II,” a stage production of “Driving Miss Daisy” and an appearance alongside “Die Hard” star Bruce Willis in a commercial for DieHard batteries.

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Review: Slice into the holiday spirit with ‘Violent Night’

The holiday season is upon us and how better to celebrate than watching Santa slip several pool balls into a Christmas stocking, swing them in the air menacingly and see him cave in someone’s face?

Such is “Violent Night,” a film that clearly no one wanted but somehow nicely acts as a chaser to all the sticky sentimentality this time of year. It is billed as an “alt-Christmas action-comedy” and it may be a litmus test of who is your real tribe: If you think watching Santa try to strangle a guy with Christmas lights is funny, this is the film for you.

Directed by Tommy Wirkola, “Violent Night” has taken the season’s naughty or nice dichotomy deeply to heart, offering pounds of gore and wounds that spurt mini-fountains of blood along with tooth-aching sweetness about believing in Santa and the true meaning of Christmas.

It’s easy to initially dismiss it as an “SNL” digital short that got high on its own tinsel but there is a sort of perverse glee to seeing Santa suck on the tip of a candy cane until it is a sharp shard and then plunge it into a bad guy’s neck. Isn’t it time for Kris Kringle as a sociopath?

Few people can balance all these demands as Santa except David Harbour, who specializing in gruff-on-the-outside, sweet-on-the-inside teddy bears. This time, his beard soaked in blood, he must save an ultra-rich family from a murderous group of home invaders with automatic weapons and military training.

On his side: “Christmas magic,” which he reveals multiple times he does not understand and which allows the screenwriters — Pat Casey and Josh Miller — a yuletide-sized logical loophole. They’ve even given Santa an origin story as a centuries-old Viking raider with a fondness for crushing skulls with a hammer. He’d be on the naughty list, naturally.

We initially meet Santa in the present day at an English pub. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s hammered. There are other men dressed as Santas this night, but they’re just pretenders, like “Bad Santa.” He’s the real thing.

Tonight, Santa is worn-out and fed-up. The children these days just demand more and more presents — just grubby consumers. He even calls them junkies. “I forgot why I started doing it in the first place,” he says. “Maybe this is my last year.”

During his rounds, he happens to linger too long at the Lightstone family compound in Connecticut. A ruthless gang has just stormed inside hoping to relieve the family of $300 million and trapping Santa with just his magic bag of presents and a pent-up desire to hurt people.

John Leguizamo, so often the comedy relief in films, here is as heavy as it gets, an anti-Christmas madman who tortures with a nutcracker and gets some of the best over-the-top lines like “Christmas dies tonight” and “Time to kill Santa.” The film soon moves into “Die Hard” territory as terrorists play cat-and-mouse with a good guy inside the building.

Santa connects with one of the hostages — a little girl (Leah Brady, sparkling like an ornament) — who still believes in Santa. “You are more than the presents you bring,” she tells him. And so he proves that Christmas is indeed alive by systematically murdering every single bad guy and girl with a sledgehammer, aided by his new friend’s “Home Alone” boobytrapping skills and all to a soundtrack of Christmas songs by Burl Ives, Bryan Adams and Slade.

This is not a Norman Rockwell vision of Santa, of course. He has a torso full of tattoos and sutures his own wounds with Christmas tree ornament hooks. He vomits, impales baddies in spiky Christmas decorations and uses the sharp parts of a pair of ice skates with surgical precision. Few films have earned their R rating better. All that’s missing is you as long as you think it’s time to add a little blood to Christmas?

“Violent Night,” a Universal Pictures release that opens nationwide in theaters Friday, is rated R for “strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.” Running time: 112 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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MPAA definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Online: https://www.violentnightmovie.com

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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