UPDATE, 3:25 PM ET: Harvey Weinstein’s defense team tried to raise doubts about the validity of Annabella Sciorra’s claim that he raped her in the winter of 1993-94 in an extensive cross-examination that included the airing of a short clip of her appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.
The clip was from Aug. 6, 1997, when Sciorra made her only appearance on the show, to promote the movie Copland.
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In the interview, Letterman asks her about having to go on press junkets and answer the same question over and over again.
“I have a bad reputation,” Sciorra told Letterman. “I was caught in the last few years about lying about a number of things,” adding that it included “making up elaborate stories” about how her father raised iguanas and that she was once roommates with Justine Bateman in Paris.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi, on her redirect, quickly asked Sciorra about the clip.
“Were you talking about lying about matters as serious as we are here for?” Illuzzi asked.
“No,” Sciorra answered.
During cross examination, Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno went in great detail through Sciorra’s claims in an effort to establish inconsistencies.
Sciorra claims that Weinstein raped her in her Gramercy Park apartment sometime in the winter of 1993-94. She said that she and Weinstein had been at a dinner with a group of others in the entertainment industry, and he offered to give her a ride home. After dropping her off, he later appeared at her door. She said that when she opened it, he forced his way in and eventually pinned her to a bed in one of her rooms before assaulting her.
Rotunno, though, asked how Weinstein could have gotten to the apartment given that the building has a doorman. She also asked how Weinstein knew which unit was hers, given that Sciorra had only given her address to him to give to his driver. Later, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi showed the jury that Miramax had contact information on her showing her unit number.
PREVIOUSLY: Prosecutors are seeking to call Rosie Perez as a witness to bolster Annabella Sciorra’s claims that Harvey Weinstein raped her in the winter of 1993-94.
Weinstein’s attorneys are objecting to Perez’s planned testimony, and Judge James Burke has yet to decide whether to allow her to be called as a witness. Prosecutors see it as a key piece of evidence to corroborate parts of Sciorra’s story.
On Thursday, Sciorra testified for approximately five hours about her claim that Weinstein raped and sexually assaulted her, and faced extensive cross-examination from Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rutunno, who tried to establish inconsistencies in her story. Among the issues Rotunno raised was whether Sciorra had told anyone about her claims against Weinstein.
In her testimony, Sciorra said that she told Perez and another friend about the assault.
After the jury left for the day, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said that Perez recalls that several months after the alleged assault Sciorra told her, “I think I was raped.”
But it wasn’t until an incident later that year, when Weinstein appeared at the door of Sciorra’s London hotel room and banged on it to be let in, that Perez put the pieces together and asked Sciorra if Weinstein was the rapist, Illuzzi said.
“My God, I don’t even remember telling you,” Sciorra told Perez, according to Illuzzi. “Yes, he was the one and I don’t want it to happen in London.”
In her cross examination of Sciorra, Rotunno asked Sciorra why she had told the district attorney last year that she “never told anyone about this.” Sciorra said that she forgot that she had told Perez.
“I don’t remember a lot of that after I was raped because I was in an extreme case of trauma,” she said.
PREVIOUSLY: Annabella Sciorra recounted to a jury how Harvey Weinstein burst into her apartment sometime in the winter of 1993-94, pinned her on a bed and raped her, leaving her so traumatized that she began to shake so much she thought she was having a seizure.
As Weinstein sat at the defense table, largely looking down writing on a legal pad, Sciorra recalled that she had tried to fend him off during the counter.
“I was punching him, kicking him,” she said, looking at a prosecutor and directly at the jury, her voice emotional and occasionally cracking. “I was just trying to get him away from me. He put my hands over my head to hold them back, and he got on top of me and he raped me. He put his penis inside my vagina and he raped me.”
Raising her arms in the air, she showed how she said Weinstein, on top of her, put her hands over her head, and she was unable to fight him off “because he had my hands locked.”
“At a certain point, he came out of me,” Sciorra said.
Asked by prosecutor Joan Illuzzi what Weinstein did next, Sciorra recalled, “He said I have perfect timing.”
She said that then Weinstein “proceeded to put his mouth on my vagina, and before he did that, he said, ‘This is for you.’ I didn’t have much fight left inside of me at that point. I said, ‘No, No.’ There was not much I could do.” She said that at that point, “my body shut down. It was so disgusting that my body started to shake in a way that was very unusual. It was like a seizure.”
She said that after he left, she is not sure if she “fainted or fell asleep or blacked out.”
“I don’t remember the immediate reaction when I woke up,” Sciorra said. “I don’t remember much except for feeling disgusting.”
She did not report the assault to the police. She said that at the time, she didn’t know what constituted the crime of rape, thinking it had to do with sexual assaults in back alleyways and at gunpoint. In this case, she knew Weinstein, having already done a film project for Miramax.
“I felt like he was a nice person. I thought he was an OK guy. I felt confused. I felt like i never should have opened the door,” she said.
She did call her brothers to come over, but they did not. “I wanted them to come over to protect me,” she said, crying as she described reaching out for support. Her brother’s girlfriend came over, but she did not tell her, nor did she tell her brothers.
She said that she started retreating from her friends, secluding herself in her apartment. She began drinking and cutting herself, and started to paint a room from white to blood red with tubes of oil paint.
“I began to cut myself,” she said. “I would put blood from my fingers and my hands into this masterpiece. Wherever I put blood, I would put pieces of gold leaf to mark it.”
She said that when she later saw Weinstein, she brought up what happened.
“I told him how I had woken up and I told him how I blacked out and fainted, and he said, ‘That is what all the nice Catholic girls say.’” She said he also told her, “This remains between you and me.”
“It was very menacing,” Sciorra said. “His eyes went black, and I thought he was going to hit me right there.”
She had said that she first met Weinstein several years earlier at a party, as her career was taking off with movies like Jungle Fever, but said she initially didn’t know who he was. Eventually, she brought her friend Warren Leight’s project, The Night We Never Met, to Weinstein, and she reluctantly agreed to star in it. But when production approached, she asked to delay the project because she felt she needed a break between back-to-back films, she said. Weinstein refused.
It was then that Sciorra said that he sent her a package that included a couple of classic movies, licorice popcorn and a bottle of valium. She had never taken valium before, but she used it and eventually developed an addiction. The jurors were shown pictures of Sciorra at that time, with her eyes puffy and her face looking tired.
Later, she said Weinstein sent her another gift: a box of chocolate penises.
“I felt it was disgusting,” Sciorra said.
Still, Sciorra said that she continued to get invites and attend Miramax events. She said that the night of the assault, Weinstein had given her a ride home from a Miramax dinner at a Manhattan restaurant to her Gramercy Park apartment (others at the dinner included actress Uma Thurman). She said that their conversation on the ride was without incident, and that he just dropped her off and she went up to her unit.
When she got dressed for bed in a nightgown, she heard a knock on the door. Even though her building had a doorman, she answered and he was there.
He pushed the door, and she said that she “didn’t have time to understand why he was there.” He started to “sort of walk around” and Weinstein began to unbutton his shirt.
“Then I realized he thought we were going to be having sex,” she said, adding that she made clear she was not interested, and “I told him he had to leave.”
Sciorra was the first accuser to take the stand in Weinstein’s sexual assault trial. Her allegations are too old to prosecute on their own, but she is a part of the prosecution’s case as they pursue charges that Weinstein was a serial predator.
Weinstein, 67, faces five charges of sexual assault stemming from allegations by two women, Jessica Mann and Miriam Haleyi, related to incidents in 2006 and 2013. They also are expected to testify. Weinstein has insisted that all the sexual encounters were consensual. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
As Sciorra testified, Weinstein only occasionally looked toward her, instead focusing on taking notes. His view of the witness box was somewhat obstructed by the judge’s bench. But when she was asked to identify the defendant, Sciorra stood up from the witness box to peer over and point at him. He looked directly at her as she was asked to describe what he was wearing — a black suit and white shirt.
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