Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies in Utah Ski Trial, Says She Initially Thought Crash Was Sexual Assault

Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand to defend herself in her civil trial against Terry Sanderson, a retired optometrist who claims the actress crashed into him while skiing at a Utah resort in 2016.

By Gabrielle Chung Mar 24, 2023 10:33 PMTags

Gwyneth Paltrow is taking the stand in her ski crash trial.

The Oscar winner testified in front of Park City, Utah jury on March 24 as part of a lawsuit over an alleged 2016 hit-and-run incident on a slope at the Deer Valley Resort. Clad in a dark ensemble, Paltrow—who is being accused of skiing into retired optometrist Terry Sanderson and leaving the scene—denied causing the collision and injuries to the 76-year-old.

During her testimony, Paltrow said that when Sanderson allegedly crashed into her, she briefly thought it was a sexual assault. 

"What made you think it was a sexual assault?" his lawyer asked.

"So, that was a quick thought that went through my head when I was trying to reconcile what was happening," the 50-year-old testified. "Two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart, and then there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange grunting noise."

Gwyneth Paltrow Through the Years

She continued, "So my brain was trying to make sense of what was happening. I thought, 'Is this a practical joke? Is someone, like, doing something perverted? This is really really strange.' My mind was going very very quickly and I was trying to ascertain what was happening."

Paltrow clarified that she is not accusing him of sexual assault.

Sanderson filed his lawsuit against Paltrow in 2019, alleging in his complaint that she was skiing recklessly down a beginner-level slope when they collided. In court documents obtained by E! News, Sanderson claimed he sustained "a brain injury, four broken ribs and other injuries," as well as "severe psychological problems including fear, anxiety and depression," as a result of the incident. 

In a countersuit, Paltrow alleged that Sanderson was the one who skied into her and "blamed her for it in an attempt to exploit her celebrity and wealth." 

Rick Bowmer-Pool/Getty Images

"She was enjoying skiing with her family on vacation in Utah, when Plaintiff—who was uphill from Ms. Paltrow—plowed into her back," the actress' filing read. "She sustained a full 'body blow.' Ms. Paltrow was angry with Plaintiff, and said so. Plaintiff apologized. She was shaken and upset, and quit skiing for the day even though it was still morning."

Sanderson is suing Paltrow for $300,000, an amount previously reduced from his initial request of $3.1 million, per NBC News. Meanwhile, Paltrow is countersuing Sanderson for "only symbolic damages in the amount of $1, plus her costs and attorneys' fees to defend this meritless claim," according to court documents. 

Watch: Gwyneth Paltrow Says She First Thought Ski Crash Was A Sexual Assault

During the testimony on March 24, Paltrow said she was not previously aware of Taylor Swift's prior countersuit for an assault and battery case, in which the singer was granted a symbolic $1. 

"I would not say we're good friends," Paltrow said. "We are friendly. I've taken my kids to concerts before."

Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock

Paltrow's husband Brad Falchuk and kids Apple, 18, and Moses, 16—who she shares with ex Chris Martin—are also expected to take the stand in the trial. Falchuk, who tied the knot with the Goop mogul in 2018, and the children were a part of the ski vacation during which the crash occurred. 

During her testimony, Paltrow said the trip was particularly significant for the couple: "[This] was the first time Brad and I were introducing our kids and doing something together as to see if we could blend families."

(E! and NBC News are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

For free, confidential help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit