On Feb. 23, Weinstein was sentenced in Los Angeles to 16 additional years for the rape of the anonymous woman known only as Jane Doe 1. Finally ready to tell her story, Evgeniya Chernyshova opens up about the long road to justice and why she has chosen to reveal herself.
“I believe all of the victims who testified,” Chernyshova says. “And I want to say this, this is not only my victory, this is our victory,” she says of Weinstein’s conviction.
On Dec. 19, Evgeniya Chernyshova was driving to pick out a Christmas tree near her home in Los Angeles when she got a message that she’s been waiting for, in some form or another, for five years. “We have a verdict,” read the text from Chernyshova’s attorney, Dave Ring. The 43-year-old mother of three stopped in the middle of the street, flipped on her emergency flashers and burst into tears.
As she sat in her car with her 16-year-old daughter and 23-year-old son, Chernyshova learned that a jury had convicted Harvey Weinstein of raping her in a hotel room in 2013. “I had to ask my daughter if I understood the English correctly,” says Chernyshova, who was born in Russia. “She’s like, ‘Why are you crying, mom? It’s good.’”
Weinstein’s LA trial had a mixed outcome for his victims: Of the four women the former mogul was charged with raping and assaulting in L. A., Chernyshova’s case was the only one to result in a conviction. She was the first of 44 witnesses the prosecution called to testify in the trial, and she is the only person the court allowed to deliver a statement at Weinstein’s sentencing on Feb. 23.
The judge sentenced Weinstein to 16 years for forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and penetration by foreign object. He will serve that time on top of the 23-year sentence he is currently serving in New York, an outcome which virtually guarantees the 70-year-old former producer will die in prison. Weinstein has long denied the allegations.
Starting when she reported the crime to police in 2017, Chernyshova, a former model and actress, went through the process of coming forward about Weinstein anonymously, known only as Jane Doe 1. Until now. “I’m tired of hiding,” says Chernyshova, speaking publicly for the first time. “I want my life back. I’m Evgeniya, I’ve been raped. This is my story.”
Over a long, often tearful interview in the Manhattan Beach office of her attorney, Chernyshova spoke about her violent encounter with Weinstein, her decision to come forward at the urging of her daughter and the lonely experience of being a Jane Doe, which she says prevented her from connecting with other victims and being open with friends and acquaintances about what she was living through. “I did it because I was ashamed and humiliated,” Chernyshova says of remaining anonymous. “I thought it was a good decision to protect my kids. But it was a horrible decision for myself because I’ve been cut off from everyone. It isn’t right to go through this hell alone.”
Today, Chernyshova runs a floral design business in Beverly Hills called Bottega Bouquet. She told only a small circle of people, including her priest and her children’s nanny, about the rape that dramatically reshaped her life 10 years ago. “Part of me, I’m fearing for my future,” she says of speaking publicly now. “But I’m proud of myself. If I continue to hide, I cannot do anything. I will just be there with my pain.”
Evgeniya Chernyshova was photographed on Feb. 20, 2023 in Los Angeles.
Chernyshova was born in Siberia and began modeling at age 15. “A lot of people think it’s just ice there and white bears,” she says of her home. “But it’s beautiful in the summertime, a lot of green and flowers.” As a child, she aspired to be an obstetrician, but after winning a local beauty contest, Chernyshova got a modeling contract and quickly began walking runways around the world, eventually settling in Italy, marrying and picking up some small roles as an actress. “I was full of energy and excited about my life,” she says. “I had a very beautiful career there. I’ve been very lucky for the girl from Siberia.”
During Oscars week in 2013, Chernyshova saw Weinstein, whom she had met briefly once at an entertainment industry gathering in Rome, at the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival, which was honoring Al Pacino at the Chinese Theater in L.A. Weinstein introduced himself, apparently unaware that he and Chernyshova had met before, and Chernyshova thought nothing else about the encounter. That night, Chernyshova says she went back to her room at the Mr. C Beverly Hills Hotel alone. She had changed from her red carpet dress into a robe when she got a call from the front desk that she had a guest downstairs. “I heard somebody talking loudly in the background, and then he took the phone and said, ‘It’s Harvey and we have to talk,’ And I was like, ‘What?’ So confused. I said, ‘We can talk tomorrow.’” A few minutes later, as she was removing her makeup, Chernyshova heard a loud knock on her hotel room door. “He’s like, ‘Hey, it’s Harvey Weinstein. Open the door. We have to talk. I’m not going to fuck you, I just have to talk to you.’”
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Chernyshova was attending the 2013 Los Angeles Italia Film, Fashion and Art Festival when Weinstein raped her in her hotel room.
Chernyshova, who was married at the time and on a business trip, says she felt self-conscious about a strange man loudly talking at her hotel room door. She didn’t feel she was in danger, she says, she felt embarrassed, and she wanted him to stop, so she opened the door. “And that is the thing I have regretted for the last 10 years — that I did open this door,” she says. “He just walked through me and went directly to the chair. He was like, ‘We’re just talking. There’s nothing happening. Why are you so nervous?’” Weinstein removed his jacket, Chernyshova says, and started to get annoyed with her. “Something clicked, like a change in his eyes,” she says. “I realized that something was wrong.”
Chernyshova at first blamed her broken English, and thought maybe she wasn’t communicating clearly. She showed Weinstein her wedding ring, and talked about her children, to express more emphatically that she was romantically unavailable and wanted him to leave. “He opened his pants, and I became hysterical,” she says. “I was continuing to show my kids’ pictures, to try to convince him that, ‘I have kids, please do not do that.’ But he did what he did. He assaulted me in the bedroom, and then he dragged me to the bathroom and he raped me there.” After Weinstein finished, he told Chernyshova he was going to send her tickets to an event, and he left. Chernyshova took a shower, cleaned her hotel room and called her nanny back in Italy. “I felt very, very dirty and like I have to die,” she says.
After the rape, she battled depression, sometimes drinking heavily, and she separated from her husband, who has since died. “I was hating myself,” Chernyshova says. “I was thinking all the time, ‘There were a lot of beautiful women and stars there, and he chose you. So it’s you who did something.’ I was depressed, I was mentally not stable. I was out of my mind.” Chernyshova believes she felt this guilt for reasons that are both cultural and generational. “I love my mom, but her generation raised me like, ‘If something bad happened to you, you’re the one who’s wrong. It’s your responsibility.’”
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