the law

Weinstein Accuser Tarale Wulff Says He Masturbated in Front of Her at Cipriani

Tarale Wulff Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Model Tarale Wulff testified Wednesday in Harvey Weinstein’s Manhattan rape and sexual-assault trial, telling jurors that he masturbated in front of her at work and raped her at his apartment, the same Soho apartment where another alleged sexual assault occurred.

Wulff took the stand immediately after Weinstein accuser Dawn Dunning testified. This makes Wulff the second Weinstein accuser to testify about alleged prior “bad acts” that he has not been charged with in New York. One more accuser is expected to testify in this manner. While these three women’s testimony can’t be used to show a pattern of alleged predatory behavior, prosecutors can use these accusations to try to claim intent and opportunity.

Weinstein is charged with five counts for alleged assaults on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and a woman named Jessica Mann, who was publicly named only last week. They include two predatory sexual-assault counts, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of rape in the first degree, and one count of rape in the third degree. Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra’s allegation that Weinstein had raped her in late 1993 is part of the predatory sexual-assault counts and is being used by prosecutors to argue that Weinstein had a pattern of nonconsensual sexual activity. Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sexual activity.

The beginning of Wulff’s testimony had striking similarities to Dunning’s. Wulff, like Dunning, was waitressing at a chic bar (in this case, Cipriani Soho’s upstairs lounge) when she met Weinstein in 2005. And, similar to Dunning, Wulff had acting aspirations. Weinstein was a friend of Cipriani’s owner, and could sit at the proprietor’s table.

“Did you know anything about him at that time?” asked prosecutor Meghan Hast.

“I knew that he was involved with movies, that he made movies,” replied Wulff.

“Did you personally interact with him?” Hast said.

“I did.”

She was assigned to the owner’s section. Weinstein was sitting there and when Wulff brought him his drink, “He asked what I did.”

“I said I was an actor,” Wulff said. “He said that ‘you have a great look, you should come talk to my people.’”

They exchanged contact information at some point. Later that night, Wulff was standing at the bar, and Weinstein grabbed her arms. He walked her through a door, which wasn’t that unusual. The bar was so loud that people frequently went into this passage to talk, Wulff said.

After leading Wulff upstairs, Weinstein took her down a hallway.

“Once he had me in front of him, at some point, I said, ‘I have to get back to work,’” Wulff claimed. “And he said, ‘One sec, one sec, one sec.’”

“And I noticed that his shirt started moving. He had on a white shirt,” she said. “And I noticed that his shirt started moving, and I realized he was masturbating under his shirt, and I just froze for a second, then I just threw the towel and ran past him.”

Hast asked Wulff what made her realize that Weinstein was masturbating.

“I saw the motion of his shirt, and his hand was in that direction, under his shirt, and I saw the motion of his shirt going up and down,” she said. “I didn’t see an actual hand. I saw the shirt over his hand, moving up and down.”

A Weinstein Company employee contacted Wulff after that night, asking her to come and read a script. Wulff went to the Weinstein Company’s offices about one week later.

Wulff was ushered into a room and given an envelope with the script; Wulff said she felt “nervous” because she had never been on an audition before.

“A woman came to the door and said that Harvey wants to see you,” Wulff recalled. “So I got up, and I walked with her and then she said, ‘There’s a car waiting for you downstairs,’ so I just followed her instructions and went outside.”

Hast asked Wulff where she thought they were going to meet.

“I kind of thought a coffee shop, I figured a coffee shop,” she said.

The driver ultimately took them to an apartment building in downtown Manhattan. It was the same building where Weinstein allegedly forced oral sex on Haleyi in July 2006. The driver instructed her to take an elevator to an apartment. When Wulff arrived, she stepped into a seemingly empty, loft-like space. Nobody was there to greet her, she said, but Weinstein said something “that drew me in more.”

“He was kind of bustling around the space, going in and out, moving around a bit, like he was getting ready for something,” she said.

They engaged in “light banter” but Weinstein seemed busy and distracted, so Wulff said she went to sit in the living room.

“I went into that area, and just sat there, and I waited for a bit, and he had called me,” she said. “I went to where the voice was coming from, which was a room.”

“I don’t know what he said that made me come into the room,” she said later.

When Wulff entered the room, she alleged, Weinstein attacked her.

“He had taken me by the arms, and turned me around, and put me on the bed, laid me down, and laid on me as he lay me back,” she said.

“When he was in front of me, that’s when I felt afraid,” she continued, breaking into tears. “That’s when my red flags finally went up.”

“I told him I can’t,” she testified. “And he answered, ‘Don’t worry I had a vasectomy.’”

Wulff “froze” and thought it would be easier to just get through it,  she said.

Hast asked her how she felt.

“Just numb.”

Hast asked what happened next.

“I don’t have a vivid memory of exactly, but I remember, after I was laid down and he was on top of me, and I said ‘I can’t ,’ and he said, ‘I had a vasectomy,’ and I just went blank and looked off,” she said. “He put himself inside me, and he raped me.”

After the alleged incident, they went to the car. Wulff said she didn’t remember the ride back to his office.

“I just remember him saying, ‘I know the owner of that beauty spa’ … or something … ‘if you ever wanted to, just go ahead and get whatever you want,’” Wulff testified.

During cross-examination, Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno tried to challenge Wulff’s credibility by highlighting gaps in her memory and pointing out that she went to therapy.

After testimony ended, it was revealed in court that Wulff’s former manager at Cipriani might testify that he saw Weinstein leading her upstairs at the restaurant.

Update, February 24: Harvey Weinstein’s verdict has been announced.

Weinstein Accuser: He Masturbated in Front of Me at Cipriani