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Actor Robert De Niro Yells Abuse at His Former Personal Assistant

In a Manhattan courtroom, Robert De Niro acknowledged to ordering his former assistant to scratch his back as he testified in her $12 million ‘abusive employer’ trial.


In a four-year court battle that began on Monday, October 30, the iconic actor, 80, is accused of discriminating against his former aide Graham Chase Robinson, 41.


As he takes the stand in her $12 million lawsuit, actor Robert De Niro yells at his former personal assistant.



Robinson, one of his former employees, has accused the actor of gender discrimination while working for his company, Canal Productions. Robinson was initially sued by De Niro’s company for allegedly misusing company funds.



On the second day of the trial, De Niro became enraged as he entered the stand to defend himself against charges that he subjected Robinson to years of nasty language, unwanted physical advances, and misogyny.


In a startling moment while on the stand, the Oscar-winning actor confronted his accuser and said before a stunned courtroom: ‘Shame on you, Chase Robinson! God da**it! I’m sorry.’



Robinson began working for De Niro in 2008 as his assistant, and eventually rose to the position of vice-president of Canal Productions. It has been reported that she had a salary of $300,000 when she resigned in April 2019.


She alleges in her lawsuit that De Niro treated her like an ‘office wife’, and made her perform menial tasks including washing his sheets and scratching his back. Robinson also alleges that she was paid less than a male employee she felt had similar responsibilities.


Actor Robert De Niro yells abuse at his former personal assistant as he takes the stand at her $12m

She is seeking $12 million in damages for severe emotional distress and reputational harm.


Her million lawsuit was quickly launched following an initial lawsuit by De Niro’s Canal Productions in August 2019, accusing her of improper spending including transferring over $450,000 worth of airline miles from the company to her own personal account.


The actor, 80, is facing accusations he discriminated against his former assistant Graham Chase Robinson, 41, in a four-year legal battle that went to trial on Monday.



Robinson, one of his former employees, has accused the actor of gender discrimination while working for his company, Canal Productions. Robinson was initially sued by De Niro’s company for allegedly misusing company funds.


She is also accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars more on personal stuff, food, and vacation, as well as binge-watching Netflix during the day.

Both lawsuits will be decided in the same trial, which will span two weeks.


De Niro was questioned on Tuesday about his alleged harassment of Robinson, including one occasion in which he allegedly ordered Robinson to scratch his back. The court heard that when she asked if he could use a back scratcher, he declined because he loved the way she did it.



The star grew visibly frustrated as he batted off questions, ultimately confessing that the back-scratching occurred on two occasions.



‘Okay, twice? You got me! I’m saying this is nonsense,’ he said on the stand. ‘It was never done with any disrespect.’



In a startling moment, De Niro then confronted his former employee, bellowing to the court: ‘Shame on you, Chase Robinson! God da**it! I’m sorry.’


Robinson’s lawyers attempted to paint De Niro as a demanding boss, including showing an audio tape of the actor calling her at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning to gain access to his computer.




De Niro testified for more than five hours in court on Tuesday, providing a more thorough look at the claims leveled against the 80-year-old.




In addition to admitting to the troubling charges, De Niro admitted to instructing Robinson to utilize Uber to order him a martini from the Nobu sushi lounge late at night.


Robinson claimed that he called her twice to interrupt her grandmother’s funeral in 2015 so she could buy his teenage son a bus ticket. When questioned about the incident, he replied: ‘So?’



He continued: ‘If I did then I did,’ adding he would have been ‘sensitive to it being a funeral.’



De Niro said that it may have been a wake and that Robinson may have said she could ‘talk at this point.’



He said: ‘It’s not like it’s a funeral where they’re putting the body into the ground, or whatever.’ A testy De Niro called the question ‘bull’ and stopped answering.



De Niro also defended possibly branding Robinson a ‘f***ing spoiled brat’, allegedly in a fiery message left for the staffer that was not played for the jury, but was included in her lawsuit.



He admitted he ‘raised my voice’ and that he was ‘upset’, because she had not woken him up for an important event he had to attend.



‘I could have too, I was upset,’ he said. ‘She didn’t wake me up and made me miss this thing in Malibu.’



Robinson’s attorney Andrew Macurdy said that De Niro ‘berated’ Robinson on the call and he conceded ‘that time I did.’



The second day of the trial was marked by tense back-and-forth’s from both sides, however there was a moment De Niro appeared to quip with his lawyer.



His attorney took objection to the questioning of his client and argued it was ‘improper impeachment’, to which De Niro replied: ‘Impeachment? Am I being impeached?’



‘Had to say it, sorry,’ he added as the courtroom broke out into laughter.



The actor also responded angrily to suggestions Robinson was not paid the same as his male trainer, as the court heard she requested to be paid the same as them in 2018.



He pushed back against suggestions she should have been paid the same as the trainer that had ‘traveled with me for 40 years, left his family to be with me for long periods of time.’



He said, ‘She’s jealous of him.’



De Niro was then asked if he spoke to Robinson on the phone while urinating. He protested: ‘I may have been in the bathroom. I didn’t realize I was talking. Come on! You got us all here today for this?’



Macurdy asked if De Niro told Robinson to use a coworkers’ sperm to get pregnant.



De Niro said: ‘I don’t remember saying it.’



Asked if he ever called Robinson a ‘b**** to her face,’ De Niro said he was ‘never abusive.’



The jury were shown email and text messages between De Niro and his girlfriend and the mother of his months-old child, Tiffany Chen, 45, due to allegations Chen pressured him to fire Robinson.



This included email exchanges between them at 2am on March 2, 2019, where Chen said: ‘If you keep her (Robinson) you and I will have problems’. Chen called Robinson ‘f****** rude’ and a ‘dismissive b****.’



She said: ‘I don’t know how you don’t see it. You don’t want to see it because you’re too close to her.’



De Niro replied that he agreed and Robinson’s behavior was ‘unacceptable.’


Chen replied: ‘I’m not going to be happy until you tell me she’s looking for a replacement. Keeping her around is just a slap in my face.’



By April 2, 2019, Robinson requested that she stop working at their home because of tension in the house, suggesting she did not want a repeat of the clashes between De Niro’s previous personal assistant and Grace Hightower, his ex-wife.



After reading the email, Chen reacted with fury and emailed De Niro: ‘This s**** really p***** me off,’ branding Robinson ‘so manipulative.’


She said: ‘This b**** needs to be put in her f****** place.’



In another email Chen wrote to De Niro saying: ‘She’s (Robinson’s) got a f****** nerve with the claims she’s making in that email.’



When Robinson first filed her lawsuit four years ago, her attorney argued on Tuesday that she did so after first trying to quit her role in November 2018 but was prevented by De Niro after he warned he would give her a bad job reference.



Asked about the allegations, De Niro brushed them off and replied: ‘You’re saying I threatened her? I don’t do that. She worked for me, I treated her with respect.’



When questioned over whether De Niro kept Robinson on with a ‘carrot and stick’, an angry De Niro replied: ‘What carrot and stick? I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s not my way.’



De Niro said that they ‘negotiated’ and came to an arrangement – her salary was increased from $200,000 to $300,000 a year.



He said: ‘I was going through a divorce, I was moving. I said this is not a good time. I knew what she was doing. She picked a time to say she was going to leave. It was not like I said you have to do this. We talked it over.’



On June 11, 2019, a few months after Robinson eventually quit, she wrote to him asking why he was refusing to give her a letter of recommendation for the London School of Economics.



De Niro was also asking her to sign a legal waiver which would have prevented her from suing him and his company.



Robinson suggested a severance package of two years of her $300,000 salary, two years of medical coverage and a meeting with De Niro.



The court was shown messages from Chen to De Niro in which she told him that if Robinson quit, he did not have to pay severance.


De Niro responded: ‘I know but I’ll do what’s right.’


De Niro rejected the idea that Chen was in control of the situation, telling the court: ‘She (Chen) had to have an opinion (but) what I’m going to do, I’m going to do

Written by PH

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