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Holding back tears, actress Annabella Sciorra took the stand on Thursday morning — as the prosecution’s second witness — to testify about the night in the winter of 1993 or 1994 when she claims that Harvey Weinstein raped her after an industry dinner.
Sciorra began choking up as she started telling the story, recalling the color of the nightgown she was wearing when the incident occurred.
The Sopranos actress is one of four “prior bad acts” witnesses who will be called to show — for the prosecution — that Weinstein’s behavior was part of a long-standing pattern, a necessary condition for his conviction on a charge of predatory sexual assault that could give him life in prison.
Sciorra said that Weinstein pushed his way into her apartment after dropping her off. “He kept coming at me and I felt very overpowered because he was very big,” she said. “He led me into the bedroom and he shoved me onto the bed. I can’t tell you exactly when his pants came off or exactly what happened. I don’t think his shirt ever got completely off. … As I was trying to get him off of me — I was punching him, I was kicking him — and he took my hands and put them over my head, 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. He had intercourse while I was trying to fight but I couldn’t fight anymore because he had my hands locked.”
She continued: “At a certain point, he stopped. He came out of me and he ejaculated on top of me, on my nightgown. He said, ‘I have perfect timing.’ And then he proceeded to put his mouth on my vagina and before he did that, he said, ‘This is for you.’ And I didn’t have very much fight left inside me at this point. I said, ‘No, no.’ But there was not much I could do at that point. My body shut down. It was just so disgusting that my body started to shake in a way that was very unusual. I didn’t even really know what was happening. It was like a seizure or something.”
Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead attorney, challenged Sciorra’s memory and behavior during cross-examination on Thursday afternoon. “You have no idea of the month, or potentially the year” of the incident, Rotunno told Sciorra. The actress contested that charge, saying that she was sure that it took place in the late months of 1993 or early months of 1994.
The lawyer pushed Sciorra on the address of the building in Gramercy Park that the actress resided in at the time. “You weren’t even really sure of the address,” she said. Sciorra responded, “I blocked most of that part of my mind out.”
Rotunno said that Sciorra was “drinking a lot” at the dinner that preceded the incident, though the actress said that she only had one glass of wine. Rotunno asked Sciorra if it was true that her behavior and drinking was called into question by the film production she was working on.
Rotunno also told jurors during cross-examination that Sciorra was sued by her landlord for $360,000 in “major damage” to the apartment, which the actress conceded.
Rotunno pushed Sciorra on her behavior after the incident. “When you woke up, did you go to the police?” she asked. “No,” Sciorra replied. “When you woke up, did you go to the doctor?” “No.” “When you woke up, did you go to the hospital?” “No.”
Sciorra told the prosecution on Thursday morning that after the incident she “pretended it never happened because I wanted to get back to my life. … I resumed my life to the best of my ability.”
Sciorra didn’t call the police, she said, “because he was someone I knew.” The actress said she had thought Weinstein was “a nice person” and an “OK guy” before the alleged attack.
Sciorra said the incident did not match what she thought of as rape at the time. “I would say at the time that I felt rape was something that happened in a back alley in a dark place by somebody you didn’t know holding a gun to your head,” she said.
Sciorra described the impact that the alleged rape had on her. “I did not want to talk about what happened,” she said. “I disappeared. I began to drink a lot. I began to cut myself. … I didn’t feel good and I didn’t want to go out, so I spent a lot of time alone.”
Sciorra said she didn’t tell her family or anyone else what had happened in the weeks after the incident. “I tried to, but it was hard to talk about,” she said. Eventually, the actress said, “I told someone that something bad had happened.”
Sciorra told the jurors that she later confronted Weinstein about the incident. “I tried to talk to him about what happened and I told him how I woke up and that I blacked out, naked, and he said, ‘That’s what all the nice Catholic girls say.’ Then he leaned into me and said, ‘This remains between you and I.’ It was very menacing. His eyes were black and I thought he was going to hit me right there. And it was threatening. And I was afraid.”
During the testimony, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon produced a copy of the script that Sciorra was given for the 1997 film Copland, in which she starred. The actress maintains that she did not initially realize that the film was to be produced by Miramax, Weinstein’s company at the time. The jurors were shown that the script does not say “Miramax” on it.
The defense, in opening arguments on Wednesday, mentioned Sciorra’s role in the film as exculpatory evidence that she maintained a professional relationship with Weinstein and collaborated with his company.
While she was at the Cannes Film Festival promoting Copland, Sciorra was given a hotel room that was adjacent to Weinstein’s room, which she was “not happy” about. She got an early-morning knock on the door. “When I opened the door, the defendant was in his underwear with a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a video tape in the other,” said Sciorra.
Later, she had a run-in with Weinstein at an industry event: “Suddenly, I felt a hand on my back. I was wearing a low-cut dress, and as I turned around he immediately took his hand off me and went away.”
Sciorra said that she was contacted by a journalist in March 2017 and asked if “something had happened” between her and Weinstein. She did not tell the journalist what happened, she said. “I was afraid,” Sciorra explained.
She also described being contacted in August 2017 by Seth Freedman, who described himself as a “journalist” but who was really working for the Black Cube private intelligence agency.
“It was obvious to me that he was working for the defendant,” said Sciorra. “By that date, I had been reached by three other journalists, and I could have sworn that it was [due to] people trying to find out information.”
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