“Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra confronted Harvey Weinstein from the witness stand Thursday, telling a jury in a quivering voice that the Hollywood studio boss barged into her apartment in the mid-1990s, overpowered her and raped her as she tried to fight him off by kicking and punching him.
She said that a month later, she ran into him and confronted him about what happened, and he replied: “That’s what all the nice Catholic girls say.”
Then, she told the jury, the burly Weinstein leaned toward her and added menacingly: “This remains between you and I.”
“I thought he was going to hit me right there,” Sciorra testified.
The 59-year-old actress became the first of Weinstein’s accusers to testify at his trial, where the movie mogul whose downfall gave rise to the #MeToo movement is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on former “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haleyi in his New York apartment in 2006 and raping an aspiring actress in a hotel room here in 2013.
Weinstein is not charged with attacking Sciorra, whose accusations date too far back to be prosecuted. Instead, she took stand as one of four additional accusers prosecutors intend to put on the stand to show that the powerful Hollywood producer had a pattern of preying on women. Weinstein, 67,. could get life in prison if convicted.
The executive behind such Oscar-winning movies as “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love” has insisted any sexual encounters were consensual.
Recounting an accusation she said she kept largely secret for decades, Sciorra testified that after raping her, Weinstein went on to try to perform oral sex on her, saying, “This is for you,” as her body “shut down.”
“It was just so disgusting,” she said. She said she started to shake: “I didn’t even know what was happening. It was like a seizure or something.”
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault, unless they come forward publicly.
Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis has questioned the validity of Sciorra’s account, saying she once told a friend that she “did a crazy thing and had sex with Harvey Weinstein” and that she had a consensual encounter with him.
“She didn’t describe it as rape because it wasn’t,” Cheronis said in his opening statement Wednesday.
Sciorra drew acclaim for her part in Spike Lee’s 1991 movie “Jungle Fever” and her role as a pregnant woman molested by her doctor in 1992′s “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” the next year. She later appeared on “The Sopranos.”
She said she met Weinstein at an industry event in Los Angeles in 1990 or 1991, and he told her he would be interested in any good scripts she came across. She later suggested one — the 1993 romantic comedy “The Night We Never Met” — and agreed to star in it after he leaned on her, though she was burned out from a series of shoots, she said.
Weinstein responded with a pair of care packages, including a bottle of Valium and a box of chocolate penises.
“I thought it was disgusting and inappropriate,” she said.
She said the rape happened in late 1993 or early 1994, after Weinstein dropped her office from a movie-business dinner and then appeared, uninvited, at her door a few minutes later.
Sciorra said afterward, she started to cut herself and feel she didn’t want to leave her house. At the same time, she said, she didn’t call police and struggled with understanding that what happened to her was a crime.
“I thought he was an OK guy. I felt confused. I felt like I wished I never opened the door,” she said. She said she told no one at first, not even her brothers.
“I wanted to pretend it never happened …. I wanted to get back to my life,” she told the jury. She would later tell a few people close to her but didn’t come forward publicly until 2017.
In the meantime, she said, had another frightening encounter with Weinstein in 1997 at the Cannes Film Festival, where he turned up early one morning at her hotel room door “in his underwear with a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a videotape in the other.”
“I got very scared,” backed away and pushed all the direct dial buttons on the phone to try to summon help, she testified. She said Weinstein eventually left.
Source: Associated Press – MICHAEL R. SISAK, TOM HAYS and JENNIFER PELTZ