Driver: Weinstein in LA area when actor says he raped her
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A limousine driver testified Wednesday that he was driving Harvey Weinstein around Beverly Hills in 2013 on the night that prosecutors allege that Weinstein raped an actor at a hotel there.
The driver, Alfred “Freddy” Baroth, gave conditional testimony in a Los Angeles courtroom that was recorded on video for potential use at the former movie mogul’s trial, which has not yet been scheduled.
He testified, based on reviewing records at the limousine company that he owns and drives for, that he was driving Weinstein around Beverly Hills late on the night of Feb. 18, where according to a grand jury indictment Weinstein raped and sexually assaulted the woman.
The drive said he drove Weinstein back to the hotel where he frequently stayed, the Peninsula Beverly Hills, at the end of the night, around 1 a.m.
He said he could not recall if he took Weinstein that night to another Beverly Hills hotel, the Mr. C, where prosecutors allege the rape took place, but that he took Weinstein there about 15 times in the years he drove for him.
Baroth also testified to driving Weinstein around the Los Angeles area in 2010, when others of the 11 sexual assault counts against Weinstein in a grand jury indictment are alleged to have happened. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty.
Baroth, 74, for years essentially served as the personal chauffeur in California for the New York-based Weinstein.
The driver said he had great affection for Weinstein, who treated him well, giving him frequent bonuses for his work, and allowing him to draw hundreds of dollars in cash at will from the front desk at the Peninsula.
He said the parting was emotional the last time he saw Weinstein in October 2017, after a raft of women came forward with stories of Weinstein sexually harassing and assaulting them, making him the central figure in the erupting #MeToo movement.
“It just came to me that it was very heartfelt, this was the last time I was going to see him,” Baroth said. “I was tipping my hat.”
Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson suggested with his questioning that the cozy relationship was the reason Baroth failed to provide some emails on his business with Weinstein that were under subpoena.
Baroth said emails from 2013 came up in his searches, but those from 2010 did not.
Asked why not, he replied “I don’t know. I’m not an IT guy.”
Thompson also pressed Baroth on a $1,000 bonus that he received in 2017 after the allegations arose.
“I got bonuses every time Mr. Weinstein came to town because I did such a great job for him,” Baroth said.
“Was there talk of a $10,000 bonus from anyone associated with Mr. Weinstein?” Thompson asked.
“Yes, from Mr. Weinstein himself,” Baroth answered,
The driver said he only received $1,000, his usual bonus.
“What happened to the $10,000?” Thompson asked.
Baroth replied, “I never received it.”
He also said under questioning that Weinstein paid for a lawyer to represent him in the case.
Weinstein sat in court Wednesday in a wheelchair, wearing brown jail attire, and listened to the testimony with no visible reaction.
He is serving a 23-year sentence in New York after a jury convicted him in February 2020 of a criminal sex act for forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 and rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actor in 2013.
But last month a New York appeals court blasted prosecutors there for using testimony from women whose allegations weren’t part of the criminal charges against him.
Several judges on the panel appeared open to considering reversing Weinstein’s conviction and ordering a new trial. No decision has been issued yet.
It was not clear why it was necessary for Baroth to testify in advance. The process is usually used for elderly or ailing witnesses who may not be able to testify at trial.
The testimony included no talk of the women or any other evidence.
This story has been corrected to reflect that prosecutors allege that Weinstein raped an actor at the Mr. C hotel, not the Peninsula Beverly Hills.