Gwyneth Paltrow has insisted that she was the “victim” of a skiing collision with a retired optometrist during an accident at a resort in Utah.
Paltrow was speaking while giving evidence in a civil case brought by Terry Sanderson, who is suing the actress for $300,000 (£245,000) over the incident at Deer Valley in 2016.
Mr Sanderson, 76, says he was left with several broken ribs and a severe concussion, as well as mental and physical injuries after Paltrow “slammed” into him on the slopes.
But Paltrow, 50, is counter-suing for the symbolic figure of $1, claiming that Mr Sanderson collided with her.
Speaking in court on Friday, Paltrow said she initially thought that she was being sexually assaulted during the collision, saying she had felt “a body pressing against me” and that she had heard “a strange grunting noise”.
She admitted feeling “very upset” about the incident and had shouted: “You skied directly into my f****** back!” at Mr Sanderson.
Paltrow testified on the fourth day of the trial, having attended court every day since Tuesday.
Describing herself as an “intermediate” skier who was “familiar” with the rules of skiing, Paltrow denied that she had been engaging in “risky behaviour” on the slopes and repeated multiple times that she had been skied into from behind by Mr Sanderson.
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“I was confused at first and I didn’t know exactly what was happening,” she said.
“It’s a very strange thing to happen on a ski slope. I froze and I would say I got very upset a couple of seconds later.”
She added: “[I thought] is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted?… my mind was going very quickly and trying to ascertain what was happening.”
Mr Sanderson’s lawyer Ms Van Orman attempted to get Paltrow to reconstruct the sequence of events in the court room, but had to make do with recreating the events herself.
Paltrow said: “I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart.
“And then there was a body pressing against me.”
“Was he grinding or thrusting?” Ms Van Orman asked. “What made you think it was a sexual assault?”
Paltrow replied: “It was a quick thought that went through my head.
No stranger to the spotlight, Paltrow looked at ease in court
Gwyneth Paltrow is no stranger to the spotlight but this was an entirely different prospect, testifying in a legal battle which has been going on for more than seven years.
She and Terry Sanderson have completely different versions of events for the accident at Deer Valley ski resort in February 2016.
She says he skied into the back of her from above; he says she ploughed into him like “Godzilla” from behind.
Given their drastically different accounts, one of them must be either lying or completely mis-remembering what happened and that will be for the jury to decide.
For her part, Paltrow looked at ease even when being questioned by Sanderson’s lawyer, at one point complimenting her on her choice of shoes.
She was cross-examined by her own lawyer, smiling and even laughing as they spoke about her ex-husband, the Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin and new partner, Brad Falchuk.
Her lawyer also said they expect to call her two children Apple and Moses – of whom Paltrow is fiercely protective – to testify next week.
“There was a strange grunting noise and a body behind me so I was trying to make sense of what was going on.
“What you have to remember is that when you’re a victim of a crash, your psychology is not necessarily thinking about the person who perpetrated it.
“Mr Sanderson hit me and that is categorically the truth.”
Later, under cross examination from her attorney Stephen Owens, Paltrow said she felt “very sorry” for Mr Sanderson.
“I really do feel very sorry for him,” she said.
“It seems like he’s had a very difficult life but I did not cause the accident so I cannot be at fault for what subsequently happened to him.”
Mr Sanderson will testify next week.