The actress testified Friday about a 2016 ski collision in Utah with Terry Sanderson
Gwyneth Paltrow testified that she initially suspected the 2016 ski collision at the center of the Park City, Utah, civil trial might have been a prank or a sexual assault attempt before she realized what happened.
The Oscar winner, 50, took the stand on Friday, speaking under oath about the Feb. 26, 2016 skiing accident at Deer Valley Resort, in which she claims Terry Sanderson, the retired doctor who is suing her, was the one who crashed into her from behind. She said she at first thought the collision may have been a "practical joke" or "someone doing something perverted" to her.
"So that was a quick thought that went through my head when I was trying to reconcile what was happening," Paltrow told the plaintiff's attorney Kristin VanOrman, who asked if she thought it was a sexual assault.
"I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart and then there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange grunting noise," Paltrow told the courtroom.
"My brain was trying to make sense of what was happening. I thought, 'Is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted? This is really really strange,' " she added. "My mind was going very, very quickly and I was trying to ascertain what was happening."
Paltrow stated later in her testimony, when asked if she was claiming the plaintiff sexually assaulted her: "I'm not saying that. I'm just saying what went through my mind for a split second when it was happening."
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Judge Kent R. Holmberg sustained an objection to not have Paltrow reenact the collision, but attorney VanOrman demonstrated some moments for the courtroom as she asked questions. One of Sanderson's lawyers suggested Sanderson himself also reenact the alleged series of events, but the judge denied that.
Paltrow testified that she "absolutely froze" and became upset when she knew what happened and screamed at Sanderson using profanity. "Yes I did. I apologize for my bad language," she told the jury.
"I said, 'You skied directly into my F-ing back,' and he said, 'Oh, sorry, sorry, I'm sorry,' " she added. "I was pretty upset."
"I would have freaked out too," VanOrman told Paltrow as she reenacted the incident, to which the actress replied: "And I did."
Both parties in the civil suit agree the collision in question happened, but they have conflicting points of view on who crashed into whom. Paltrow agreed she did not inquire about Sanderson's condition after she said she was told by the ski instructor he'd handle the situation and left to meet her kids. After lunch, she got a massage while having back and knee pain, she said.
"I think you have to keep in mind when you're the victim of a crash your psychology is not necessarily thinking about the person who perpetrated it ... I thought it was very minor on the day," she said, noting she "stuck around long enough for [Sanderson] to say he was okay." Lawyers for Sanderson, 76, pointed out that he is about 5'5" and Paltrow is about 5'10".
When it came time for her lawyers to ask her questions, Paltrow said she feels "very sorry" for Sanderson. "It seems like he's had a very difficult life. But I did not cause the accident, so I cannot be at fault for anything that subsequently happened to him."
The trial — which is also supposed to hear testimony from Paltrow's husband Brad Falchuk and her kids Apple, 18, and Moses, 16, who were there the day of the incident — began on Tuesday. Sanderson, who claims to have sustained broken ribs and permanent brain damage from the accident, is seeking $300,000 damages after first bringing a lawsuit back in 2019. Paltrow is countersuing for $1 and legal fees.
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