"Every little thing she’s trying to get me on is nonsense," the actor said on the stand
Robert De Niro testified about asking his former assistant, who is now suing him for gender-based discrimination, to scratch his back while she worked for him.
Inside the New York City federal courthouse Tuesday, the Oscar winner, 80, continued on the stand, at one point admitting, "Yeah, fine, I berated her," referring to Graham Chase Robinson, 41.
On Monday during opening arguments, Robinson's attorney Brent Hannafan mentioned instances of De Niro insisting Robinson scratch his back and when she would decline he'd allegedly say, "I like the way you do it."
When asked about this Tuesday, De Niro said on the stand it happened maybe "twice." He added, "You got me! I’m saying this is nonsense," and said of the back-scratching requests: "It was never done with any disrespect."
"Every little thing she’s trying to get me on is nonsense! Shame on you, Chase Robinson," De Niro said on the stand, soon apologizing for the courtroom outburst.
After Robinson left her vice president for production and finance position at De Niro's company Canal Productions in 2019, the company filed a $6 million lawsuit against her. They claimed she binge-watched TV while on the clock and inappropriately used "her employer’s fund for her personal gain."
She responded with a $12 million countersuit, alleging that De Niro and Canal Productions violated the New York City Human Rights Law. Robinson claimed De Niro directed sexist remarks at her and gave her "stereotypically female job duties that were inconsistent with her job title."
De Niro also admitted to previously calling Robinson “petulant,” “snippy” and a “f------g spoiled brat" while she was employed by him.
Robinson has not yet taken the stand. As the civil trial continues, alleged emails and text exchanges between De Niro and his girlfriend Tiffany Chen are expected to be shown in court. The couple welcomed a daughter together, Gia Virginia Chen De Niro, his seventh child, in May.
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In earlier testimony, De Niro said Chen “might have been saying” disrespectful things about Robinson. “But she was annoyed because Robinson was disrespectful to her. Period. And that is unacceptable," the Killers of the Flower Moon actor said.
De Niro's attorney Rich Schoenstein said in their opening remarks on Monday that Robinson, who was hired to help the actor professionally and personally back in 2008, "is not the hero of this story." His side painted her as difficult to work with, adding, "It has been significantly better since the day she left."
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