It’s too late to charge Harvey Weinstein with rape in Annabella Sciorra’s case, but it’s not too late for her testimony to paint him as a serial predator. Sciorra testified in court today that the Hollywood megaproducer violently raped her, pinning her down while forcing himself upon her in Sciorra’s apartment 25 years ago. Weinstein faces five counts of sexual assault in more recent incidents, but Sciorra’s testimony may be among the most damning:
They met at a party in Los Angeles. She was an up-and-coming actress at the time. He was a young producer. As they got to know each other over the next four years, there were, she said, some “inappropriate” gestures: a care package of popcorn and Valium, a box of chocolate penises.
Then, Annabella Sciorra said on the witness stand on Thursday, Harvey Weinstein raped her.
Fighting back tears, Ms. Sciorra testified in excruciating detail to a rapt courtroom about the night she says she was attacked. After shoving his way into her Gramercy Park apartment, she said, Mr. Weinstein took her to a bedroom, forced her onto a bed and, as she sought to fight him off, sexually assaulted her.
“I was trying to get him off me,” a tearful Ms. Sciorra told the jury. “I was punching him, kicking him.” But Mr. Weinstein held her down, she said, adding: “He got on top of me and he raped me.”
Weinstein apparently thought he’d get a second shot at Sciorra, as she testified that he appeared at her hotel door in Cannes wearing nothing but his underwear and carrying a bottle of baby oil. Sciorra testified that she “started pressing all the buttons for service and people came” to get away. Weinstein continued to ask Sciorra to “breakfast meetings” regardless, which she declined.
Shortly after the rape, Weinstein made it clear that Sciorra needed to keep her mouth shut about it, she testified:
She said she confronted Weinstein at a restaurant two to six weeks later.
“I tried to talk to him about what happened and I told him how I woke up and that I’d blacked out, and he said, ‘That’s what all the nice Catholic girls say,’ ” she said.
“And 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. It was threatening and I was afraid,” she said.
The statute of limitations has run out on that allegation, unfortunately, but the prosecution fought to get Sciorra’s testimony in to establish his pattern of predation. Weinstein’s legal team has fought tooth and nail to exclude it and any other mentions of predatory behavior, going so far yesterday as to demand a new jury after opening statements because the prosecution described Weinstein as a “predatory monster.” Judge James Burke denied the motion, and prosecutors wasted no time in establishing that point with Sciorra.
Prosecutors have Sciorra on the stand as an insurance policy, USA Today explains:
Weinstein is not charged with a crime in connection with Sciorra’s allegation, because it’s too old to prosecute under the statute of limitations. But the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is offering her testimony to bolster the “predatory” charges against Weinstein, which can increase prison time if he’s convicted.
New York law requires prosecutors to prove Weinstein assaulted more than one person to be defined as a predator; Sciorra is an insurance witness in case the jury does not believe the two women whose allegations are the basis of the five charges against him.
It might not matter a whole lot if the jury doesn’t believe any of the charges brought against him, but it will be tough for a jury to disregard such testimony from someone unconnected to the current prosecution otherwise. Even if they don’t, Weinstein’s troubles will be far from over. Prosecutors in Los Angeles filed sexual assault charges earlier this month against Weinstein, and other cases might still be pending.
After that, the efforts for justice will likely switch to civil actions. And that might be when some of Big Harv’s enablers finally have to start answering some tough questions, too.