Altercation Between Witness, Defendant in Peters Case

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CITY NEWS SERVICE

An attorney who testified Tuesday on behalf of a woman in her sexual harassment case against movie producer Jon Peters got into a brief verbal altercation with the filmmaker during a recess.

The witness, Lisa Maki, had been asked by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana to stay outside the courtroom during a break while a hearing was conducted regarding defense objections to her additional testimony in Shelly Morita’s case.

Peters had left briefly and was walking back into the courtroom when Maki said, “Don’t threaten me, Mr. Peters.”

The 66-year-old Peters denied saying anything to Maki.

“All I said was she wasn’t allowed in here,” Peters said.

Morita, 44, who filed her suit in December 2006, worked as a personal assistant to Peters for about a year beginning in February 2005. She claims she was subjected to unwanted touching and that her boss climbed into her hotel bed without permission during filming of “Superman Returns” in July 2005. She also alleges he exposed himself to her daughter, who was 2 at the time.

Maki was called to the stand by Morita’s attorney, Philip Kaufler, to rebut earlier testimony by former Peters trainer Steven Burgin. Maki represented Burgin in a lawsuit that Peters filed against him, alleging he breached a confidentiality clause in his employment and that he had not repaid a $50,000 loan.

Peters later dropped the suit.

In her testimony, Maki said Burgin told her he was sexually harassed by Peters and that the producer often screamed and yelled at him. She said Burgin’s situation was similar to that of a battered woman.

According to Maki, Burgin also said he had seen Peters sexually harass Morita with inappropriate touching, and said Peters told him he was frustrated that Morita resisted his attempts to sleep with her.

Burgin also gave a sworn statement concerning what he allegedly saw Peters do concerning Morita, Maki said.

When Burgin testified earlier in the trial, he denied seeing Peters harass Morita. He also said the lengthy declaration with his signature on it was blank when he signed it and that someone else filled in the contents.

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