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Weinstein rape trial told of sexual assault 'myths'

The prosecution called Barbara Ziv, who testified when American comedian Bill Cosby was convicted of sexual assault, to dispel several 'myths' surrounding rape.

In this file photo taken on 26 April 2019 disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein returns to the State Supreme Court in New York, after a break in a pre-trial hearing over sexual assault charges. Picture: AFP

NEW YORK - A forensic psychiatrist told Harvey Weinstein's rape trial Friday that victims of sexual assault commonly remain in contact with their attacker for years after the incident.

The prosecution called Barbara Ziv, who testified when American comedian Bill Cosby was convicted of sexual assault, to dispel several "myths" surrounding rape.

Ex-Hollywood titan Weinstein, 67, whose trial began hearing testimony this week, faces life imprisonment if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges related to two women: actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi.

He is alleged to have forcibly performed oral six on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and to have raped actress Jessica Mann.

Weinstein denies all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Pennsylvania-based Ziv said most sexual assaults are committed by someone who is known to the victim, and not by a stranger, as is often believed.

She told the proceedings, symbolic to the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, that it is wrong to say that victims always resist their assailants.

Another misconception, said Ziv, who has given evidence at more than 200 sexual assault trials, is that victims usually report the attack to friends and the police afterwards.

Defense attorneys have presented correspondence between Mann and Weinstein which they say show the pair were "in a loving relationship."

"It is the norm to continue to have contact," said Ziv, the prosecution's third witness.

"That contact can range from text messages to emails to continuing a relationship with them," she added.

Weinstein, wearing a dark suit, switched between scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad and tapping his fingers anxiously on the desk during Ziv's testimony.

The psychiatrist said victims often keep quiet about an attack because they possess some sort of affection for the abuser.

The perpetrator may also have the power to wreck their job and other relationships, she added.

"I can handle this trauma but God forbid they could ruin the rest of my life and make it impossible for me to go on," victims sometimes think, Ziv said.

Defence attorney Damon Cheronis challenged Ziv on whether women ever report a consensual sexual encounter as a rape years later "out of shame."

"Anything is possible, (but) it's not usual," she replied.

Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by more than 80 women, including Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek, since allegations against him ignited the #MeToo movement in October 2017.

Cosby was in September 2018 sentenced to a minimum of three years in jail for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.

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