Robert De Niro’s former personal assistant Graham Chase Robinson breaks down in court while recalling ‘creepy’ and ‘disgusting’ moment he made her scratch his back in bombshell $12M abusive boss trial
- Graham Chase Robinson, 41, said De Niro asked her to scratch his back at least three times in the past three years
- She claimed he told her he preferred ‘the way you do it’ during Manhattan Federal Court trial
- Robinson also alleged the Taxi Driver actor called her a ‘b****’ two or three times during her employment with his company Canal Productions
Robert De Niro’s former assistant broke down in tears in court on Friday as she recalled the ‘creepy’ and ‘disgusting’ moment he ordered her to scratch his back.
Graham Chase Robinson, 41, is suing the actor, 80, for alleged gender discrimination while she worked at his company Canal Productions between 2008 and 2019.
During her testimony at Manhattan Federal Court on the fifth day of the high-profile trial, Robinson accused De Niro of making her feel ‘physically uncomfortable’ by asking her to scratch his back because he preferred ‘the way you do it’.
The actor previously admitted to asking Robinson to scratch his back ‘once or twice’, but said it was never done with ‘any disrespect’.
She also claimed he called her ‘b****’ two or three times during her employment and frequently berated her – which she described as ‘hurtful’ and ‘demeaning’.
Graham Chase Robinson broke down in court as she described how former boss Robert DeNiro asked her to scratch his back, branding the request as ‘creepy’
Robinson said she told De Niro he could use a back scratcher but he told her ‘I prefer the way you do it’ – which she said made her feel ‘uncomfortable’
De Niro, pictured in New York on Thursday night, admitted he may have asked her to scratch his back once or twice but ‘never was with disrespect or lewdness’
Robinson’s $12 million lawsuit was filed four years ago, shortly after De Niro sued her for misuse of the company’s accounts.
She claimed De Niro asked her to scratch his back around three times in the past three years.
‘I mentioned there was a back scratcher he could use instead,’ she told the court.
‘He said ‘I prefer the way you do it’.’
‘It was creepy, just disgusting,’ she added before breaking down in tears.
Robinson also claimed she was called a ‘b****’ by De Niro on more than one occasion while she worked for him.
She said the first incident occurred when a fire broke out at his New York City townhouse and she was listed as an emergency contact with the security company.
‘I tried to take my name off ADT as I didn’t live there and it wasn’t a liability or responsibility I wanted,’ Robinson told the court.
‘Bob [De Niro] was really angry and he started berating me and said I was complaining and that he did not want to hear it.
‘He hung up and called back, berating me more and said I was ‘acting like a little b****’ and hung up again.’
She recalled another incident in December 2017 in which Di Niro was allegedly furious because he could not find some Christmas presents in the office.
‘He was screaming about not being able to find some of the presents in the office,’ Robinson said.
‘He was cursing left and right. I was trying to sort it but he just said I was being a b****.
‘I was complaining about him berating me and said please don’t curse at me.’
She became emotional and said: ‘It was very difficult. It is very demeaning and hurtful to be called that when you are just trying to do your job.
‘It is extremely hurtful to hear that from your boss.’
Her remarks come after De Niro lost his temper as he testified in the trial on Tuesday.
In a startling moment while on the stand, the Oscar-winning actor confronted Robinson and said before a stunned courtroom: ‘Shame on you, Chase Robinson! God da**it! I’m sorry.’
The 41-year-old is suing De Niro, 80, for alleged gender discrimination while she worked at his company Canal Productions
The Taxi Driver actor allegedly called Robinson a ‘b****’ between two or three times during her employment for his company, Canal Productions, she said during her testimony
The former assistant, picture here leaving court earlier this week, filed her lawsuit shortly after De Niro sued her for misuse of company funds
Meanwhile, his girlfriend Tiffany Chen, 64, slammed the actor’s former assistant as ‘psychotic’ in fiery testimony on Thursday.
She took the stand to berate De Niro’s former staffer Graham Chase Robinson, who she claimed had an ‘imaginary intimacy’ with the Oscar winner.
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’.
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 received 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’.
This included Chen agreeing with a description of Robinson as ‘obsessive, psychotic and dangerous.’
Chen also appeared upset at having her intimate personal text exchanges revealed to the court.
De Niro’s girlfriend Tiffany Chen (pictured) dismissed Robinson as ‘obsessive, psychotic and dangerous’ in a fiery testimony earlier this week, when jurors were shown a series of hostile messages between her, Robinson and De Niro
She had been questioned 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 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.’
Chen told De Niro he had ‘allowed her [Robinson] to become disrespectful’ and advocated he fire the assistant, texts revealed
‘She definitely thinks she’s in charge of everyone,’ Chen added.
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.
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.’
Robinson is seeking $12 million from De Niro in damages for severe emotional distress and reputational harm
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 behavior hasn’t just affected me, she does it to everyone in your life in different ways.’
Robinson 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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