Robert De Niro’s girlfriend Tiffany Chen tells court that his assistant was a ‘psychotic single white female’ who had an ‘imaginary intimacy’ with the legendary actor
- Chen, 64, took the stand on Thursday to berate De Niro’s former assistant
- The actor’s girlfriend said his staffer had an ‘imaginary intimacy’ with him
- De Niro, 80, is accused of discriminating and demeaning his old assistant
Robert De Niro’s girlfriend Tiffany Chen slammed the actor’s former assistant as ‘psychotic’ in fiery testimony at his ongoing discrimination trial.
Chen, 64, took the stand to berate De Niro’s former staffer Graham Chase Robinson, who she claimed had an ‘imaginary intimacy’ with the Oscar winner.
De Niro, 80, is being sued by Robinson for alleged gender discrimination while she worked at his company Canal Productions from 2008 to 2019. Her $12 million lawsuit was filed four years ago, shortly after De Niro sued her for misuse of the company’s accounts.
On the fourth day of the trial on Thursday, Chen admitted she pressured De Niro to fire Robinson after their relationship soured over issues including catering on his private jet and renovations at their Manhattan townhouse.
Her testimony came after a number of hostile email and text exchanges between Chen, Robinson and De Niro were shown to the jury days before, including a 2am email from Chen to the actor saying: ‘If you keep her (Robinson) you and I will have problems’.
Tiffany Chen (pictured in August) testified over her disapproval of her boyfriend Robert De Niro’s former assistant on Thursday, describing her as ‘obsessive, psychotic and dangerous’
De Niro, pictured leaving court after testifying on Tuesday, is accused of subjecting his assistant to years of abusive language and misogyny
Graham Chase Robinson (pictured leaving court Tuesday) alleges that De Niro treated her like his ‘office wife’ while she worked at his company Canal Productions
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.
Chen’s hostility to Robinson was on full show in her testimony, which saw her compare the former assistant to the lead character of 1992 hit ‘Single White Female’, reports The Independent.
This included Chen agreeing with a description of Robinson as ‘obsessive, psychotic and dangerous.’
Two days prior, her boyfriend De Niro grew visibly irate and angered on the witness stand, which was repeated by Chen who appeared upset at having her intimate personal text exchanges revealed to the court.
It came amid questioning over whether she had forced an ultimatum on De Niro to fire Robinson in 2018, the year before she resigned, which also included texts saying: ‘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.’
Asked if she wrote the texts, she replied: ‘Yeah, I wrote it.’
The court heard their relationship deteriorated after De Niro and Chen moved into a new townhouse in 2018, the same year De Niro separated from his ex-wife Grace Hightower.
Robinson had a perceived lack of respect towards the couple’s plans, the court heard, which led to a 2019 text from Chen to De Niro reading: ‘Her possessive manner over the house makes me very uncomfortable.’
‘Her sense of entitlement stems from this imagined intimacy she has with you,’ the text added. ‘She thinks she’s your wife and decided to be the lady of the house.’
Chen’s disapproval of Robinson’s attitude at the time included another text in March 2019 saying she had ‘had it with Chase’s bulls***.’
Asked if she believed Robinson believed she was in a relationship with De Niro, Chen said: ‘I think she knows she’s not but that’s what makes her angry because she’s striving to be.’
‘She definitely thinks she’s in charge of everyone,’ Chen added.
De Niro and Chen met in 2015 on the film set of The Intern. A number of the couple’s private text and email exchanges have been heard in court this week
In her lawsuit, Robinson alleged that De Niro demeaned her with menial tasks such as scratching his back, and claimed she was not paid as much as a male employee she felt had similar responsibilities.
De Niro testified on Tuesday that this was Robinson asking to be paid as much as his longtime trainer, which he refused because he 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.’
Further texts from Chen appeared to note this disagreement, where she told the Oscar winner: ‘If you keep her you and I will eventually have problems because you have allowed her to become disrespectful to you and now she’s telling you what she will do and what her job is.’
Chen also texted Michael Kaplan, another Canal Productions employee who testified at the trial, claiming Robinson snuck into her bedroom and unplugged her electronics.
In the text she described the situation as ‘very Single White Female’, citing the film. She expanded on her thoughts in her testimony, saying she was describing a character who is ‘obsessive, crazy and dangerous.’
She said Robinson had a personality like ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide’, who would flip on a dime around De Niro and ‘confuse the situation.’
Chen felt her behavior towards the couple was because she dreamed of being with the actor, adding: ‘I believed she lived her whole life as a fantasy.’
‘If her fantasies are going to infringe on my personal life… I’m going to make it difficult for her,’ she added. ‘She was attached to the control she thought she had in this dynamic.’
Chen was questioned over a row over catering on a private jet in early 2019, shortly before she resigned, when she and De Niro returned from a holiday in Antigua.
After learning Robinson had specifically asked flight attendants not to serve food on the flight, Chen texted De Niro: ‘I’m concerned that her nasty alter ego will cause serious future problems if she isn’t called out now.’
‘She’s a mean, insecure, territorial girl and her behaviour hasn’t just affected me, she does it to everyone in your life in different ways.’
Robinson reportedly appeared unmoved as Chen tore into her from the witness stand, similarly to when De Niro lost his temper while testifying on Tuesday.
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.’
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.
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.
She is also accused of spending tens of thousands more on personal items, food and travel and spending her days binge watching Netflix.
Both lawsuits are set to be decided in the same trial, which is expected to last two weeks.
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