New York, NY – In a high-profile civil trial that kicked off with fervor, legendary actor Robert De Niro took to the witness stand on Monday to vehemently deny allegations of gender discrimination and misconduct leveled against him by his former executive assistant, Graham Chase Robinson. The legal showdown, unfolding in a New York courtroom, promises to be a two-week spectacle, pitting the two parties against each other in a clash that’s already being described as tense and confrontational.
Robinson, who previously worked as an executive assistant to De Niro, claims the esteemed actor underpaid her, subjected her to sexist comments, and relegated her to “stereotypically female” tasks during her tenure. She seeks $12 million in damages for severe emotional distress and reputational harm.
De Niro, a double Oscar winner known for his iconic roles in films like “The Godfather Part II,” “Taxi Driver,” and “Raging Bull,” strongly refuted Robinson’s accusations. In testimony described by reporters as “grumpy” and “grouchy,” he characterized her allegations as “nonsense.”
During his testimony, De Niro was confronted with allegations that he required Robinson to be on call around the clock and perform an array of tasks. He responded, “I asked her to do anything within reason – within the confines of her job,” and reportedly snapped at the lawyer during his response. De Niro highlighted tasks such as scheduling, arranging travel, and buying gifts for loved ones, while downplaying requests like mending clothing, doing laundry, and scratching his back, saying, “It’s not like I’m telling her to go out and scrape floors, mop floors.”
Robinson further claimed that De Niro once called her at 4:00 AM to request assistance after an accident, which led to an “angry” response from the actor, explaining that it was the result of a fall down the stairs.
The legal wrangling has taken a dramatic twist, with De Niro countering Robinson’s allegations with accusations of his own. He has sued Robinson, alleging that she misused company funds and watched Netflix during working hours.
The courtroom proceedings have also revealed an accusation against De Niro’s partner, Tiffany Chen, whom Robinson claims targeted her with false accusations about a romantic interest in De Niro. This, Robinson alleges, led to her being stripped of her job duties in retaliation. De Niro expressed a desire for everyone to “be happy and play nice,” but acknowledged it didn’t come to fruition.
In a moment of tension, Judge Lewis J Liman intervened, instructing both De Niro and Robinson’s lawyer to lower their voices and speak more slowly.
Robinson, who started as De Niro’s assistant in 2008 before rising to the position of vice president of production and finance at Canal Productions, left her role in 2019, citing De Niro’s “vulgar, inappropriate, and gendered comments,” and her portrayal as an “office wife.” De Niro, in his testimony, staunchly rejected these claims.
Canal Productions, De Niro’s company, has also taken legal action against Robinson, alleging that she improperly transferred over $450,000 in airline miles to her personal account, spent tens of thousands of dollars of company money on personal expenses, and watched Netflix during her working hours.
Robinson’s legal team has vehemently refuted the allegations contained in De Niro’s lawsuit, stating that they are “false allegations designed to inhibit Ms. Robinson from pursuing her claims, destroy her reputation, and obliterate her job prospects.”
As the trial unfolds, all eyes are on this high-profile case, which not only delves into the allegations of gender discrimination but also offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the entertainment industry and the dynamics between celebrities and their assistants. De Niro is set to continue giving evidence on Tuesday, and the legal battle shows no sign of waning, promising more revelations and drama in the days to come.