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Robert De Niro shouts across courtroom in workplace abuse case

Graham Chase Robinson is suing De Niro for $12m in damages for severe emotional distress and reputational harm

Tom Murray
Wednesday 01 November 2023 13:57 GMT
Day 2 of Robert De Niro court trial

Robert De Niro has admitted to “berating” his former assistant and calling her a “f***ing spoiled brat” during fiery court testimony in New York.

The Oscar-winning actor, who is facing a $12m (£9.9m) lawsuit for “severe emotional distress and reputational harm” brought against him by Graham Chase Robinson, shouted “shame on you” across the courtroom in a day of high drama.

Ms Robinson worked for De Niro between 2008 and 2019 before she quit as his vice president of production and finance after repeated clashes with his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen.

Ms Robinson, who was paid $300,000 (£247,000) a year, said she was charged with everything from decorating the star’s Christmas tree to taking him to the hospital in the middle of the night when he fell down stairs.

The jury is also considering evidence De Niro filed against Robinson in which he claimed she stole things from him including 5 million airline points, and is demanding the return of three years of Robinson’s salary.

“Yeah, fine, I berated her,” De Niro testified in response to questioning about a time Robinson didn’t wake him in time for an important meeting. He then agreed he might have called her “petulant,” “snippy” and a “f***ing spoiled brat.”

“I’ve raised my voice,” stated De Niro. “I don’t yell. You wanna dispute that? That’s one thing I don’t do.”

Robert De Niro (Getty Images)

Robinson’s attorney Andrew Macurdy asked De Niro whether it was true that he sometimes urinated as he spoke with Robinson on the telephone.

“That’s nonsense,” De Niro answered. “You got us all here for this?”

Macurdy told De Niro he called Robinson “b**** to her face.”

“I was never abusive, ever,” the actor snapped back, though he conceded that he might have used the word in conversations with her.

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And the claim that he told Robinson he preferred that she scratch his back rather than using a back-scratching device drew another angry rebuke from De Niro, who said it might have happened once or twice, but “never was with disrespect or lewdness”.

Finally, he angrily looked toward Robinson and shouted: “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!”

Quickly, he blurted an apology in a quieter voice, as he glanced toward Judge Lewis J. Liman.

De Niro, 80, has won two Oscars in a six-decade movie career that has featured memorable roles in films including The Deer Hunter and Raging Bull. Currently, he appears in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

The trial continues.

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