Gwyneth Paltrow testifies she initially thought ski crash might have been "sexual"
Park City, Utah - Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand Friday in her civil trial over allegations that the star caused severe injuries to a retired optometrist in a 2016 ski crash, saying that at one point, she thought she might be the victim of a sexual assault.
Paltrow has been on hand in the Park City, Utah, courtroom since the trial began Tuesday and has listened to testimony from witnesses called by lawyers representing her accuser, Terry Sanderson.
While testifying on Friday, one of Sanderson’s attorneys, Kristin Vanorman, grilled the actor and wellness influencer on her recollection of the details of the incident, as well as her knowledge of ski rules and etiquette.
At one point, when Vanorman asked Paltrow whether she knew of a rule about exchanging contact information at the time of a collision, she deflected, saying her ski instructor promised to give Sanderson her info and told her to ski toward her kids.
"I appreciate that, but my question was, did you know of the rule of skiing that if you are in a collision that you need to share that information?" Vanorman repeated, pressing Paltrow.
"I don’t think I was aware of the rule," she responded.
Since the lawsuit was originally filed in 2019, Paltrow’s and Sanderson’s memories of the event have almost entirely differed. Jurors must decide whether Paltrow acted negligently during the crash, and much of that turns on who was uphill and who was downhill. A downhill skier has the right of way.
Paltrow initially thought crash was "sexual" in nature
During testimony, Paltrow maintained her position, echoing statements given in her counterclaim and recalling that Sanderson's "body pressed up into my back, so I froze... and then it was probably a few good seconds, and then we fell to the right."
Having initially thought there might be something "sexual" going on, she then said she told Sanderson, "'You skied directly into my effing back,' and he said, 'Oh, sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.'"
Earlier in the trial, Greg Ramone, a Sanderson ski buddy who said he witnessed the crash, testified that Paltrow was uphill and had skied into Sanderson.
When Vanorman reminded Paltrow of Ramone's earlier testimony, she rejected his testimony.
"I don’t believe that he saw what he thinks he saw," the Oscar-nominee said.
"Ms. Paltrow," Vanorman asked, creating a tense moment, "why would he lie?"
After an objection from her attorney, which the judge overruled, Paltrow commented on Ramone’s color-blindness and distance from the crash.
"If you have two people in ski gear and you're 40-plus feet away, I'm not sure you can discern who is who," Paltrow said. "And I can tell he didn't, because Mr. Sanderson categorically hit me on that ski slope, and that is the truth."
"And I'm sure that’s what you believe," Vanorman said.
"Because it’s the truth," Paltrow insisted.
Gwyneth Paltrow's family expected to testify
Throughout the trial, Sanderson's legal team has attempted to paint the 76-year-old as a once-avid skier, traveler and family man whose health deteriorated in the years since the crash, casting blame on Paltrow's alleged out-of-control skiing. Other witnesses who testified include medical experts, a former romantic partner and Sanderson's daughter.
Sanderson initially filed the $3.1 million lawsuit, which now seeks only around $300,000 in damages, in 2019.
Paltrow’s attorneys have yet to call a witness. However, her husband, TV writer-producer Brad Falchuk, and her two teenage children with ex-husband Chris Martin, Apple and Moses, are all expected to testify during the trial, which will stretch into next week.
Paltrow's family had been skiing together while on vacation at Deer Valley Resort when the crash took place.
Cover photo: REUTERS