EXCLUSIVE: Meticulous and detailed questioning by defense attorney Brian Neary this morning didn’t shake a woman in the Mendeecees Harris sex trial from her steadfast insistence that the “Love & Hip Hop” star forced her into sex for money when she was only 15.
- BREAKING NEWS: Jurors in Hackensack this afternoon acquitted VH1 “Love & Hip Hop” star Mendeecees Harris of sexually assaulting a teenager by coercing her with money and other manipulation in his Lodi home when she was 15. READ MORE….
“Mister,” she said to Neary, “this incident occurred 4 years ago. I don’t remember when things were, but I remember what happened.”
In a surprising development, the now-19-year-old woman also said she had no idea what Harris did for a living — and was shocked to discover not only that he was on “Love & Hip Hop” but that he was seeing co-star Yandy Smith while still living with his previous girlfriend in Lodi.
“You knew he was in the entertainment business?” Neary asked. “You knew he managed DJ Webstore?”
“No sir,” she answered. “I didn’t know he managed DJ Webstore.“
“You know now,” the defense attorney said.
“Yes, he’s on a TV show,” she replied.
“You weren’t surprised he was on television?” Neary asked.
“I was,” she answered.
“You knew he was in a relationship with Yandy,” Neary continued.
“Not until I saw the TV show,” the woman said.
“You knew when you were living in the house with him, he had a relationship with another woman besides your mother,” the attorney said.
“No,” she said. “I didn’t know it until I saw them on television together.”
Pressing further, Neary asked: “In 8 months of living in the same house, you never knew what he did for a living?”
“Having a job is going to work,” the woman snapped back.
“Mendeecees was at the house whenever he wanted to be. If he didn’t want to go to the city, he didn’t,” she said.
“You never asked him what he did for a living?” Neary insisted.
“It wasn’t any of my business,” she answered.
“Mendeecees had money, lots of it. What he did with it, how he got it, I don’t know.”
Questioned yesterday by the prosecutor in the case, the woman testified that Harris told her she was “better than [her] mother” after coercing her into oral sex by revealing his knowledge of a dark secret from her past. READ MORE….
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Harris faces seven counts of illegal sex with the girl, including giving her money as an inducement, Maurice told the jury, outlining a “very skillful manipulation” of a young girl who “had had a bit of a rough upbringing.”
Some of the incidents allegedly occurred while the youngster was still 15 and others after her 16th birthday, when Harris was more than four years older – the standard in New Jersey for statutory rape.
If convicted of the charges, Harris would face up to 20 years in prison.
Neary has called the incidents fabrications.
During this morning’s cross-examination, he pressed the woman about her first statement to detectives, her grand jury testimony and the times she claimed that Harris coerced her into sex.
Regarding the statement, she said: “I was talking to two people I had never met before in life, and they were two males,” she said, emphasizing “males.”
“There were a lot of things I didn’t say.
“I told them everything that happened. It was just not as detailed,” she said in a clear, firm voice — in stark contrast to her barely audible whispers from the stand yesterday.
“I told him everything that was relevant,” she said. “But like I said before, it wasn’t as detailed.”
The woman also told jurors that Harris “offered me $1,000 if I didn’t say anything, not for sex.”
“When was he going to give you the $1,000?” Neary asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied.
Toward the end of more than two hours of cross-examination, the woman broke down.
Neary had been challenging her decisions not to move back to North Carolina, after moving to Lodi, as well as her failure to disclose what she said happened to “your counselor, your minister grandmother.”
“I didn’t want anyone to know,” she replied.”I didn’t want it out in the open, like now.”
“Do you have any children?” she asked the defense attorney. “Do you think if someone told your mother – the kind of things my mother learned — knowing that guilt she has every day?
“I do, because I feel it,” she said, her voice tightening, tears forming.
At that point, Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi told Neary he had “exhausted” his line of questioning.
The trial then broke for lunch.
TOP PHOTO: Defense attorney Brian Neary with President Bergen County Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi
(STORY / CLIFFVIEW PILOT PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia)
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