The actress fought back tears as she told a rapt courtroom, in excruciating detail, about the night she said she was attacked.
The actress Annabella Sciorra is best known for her role in “The Sopranos.”
The actress Annabella Sciorra is best known for her role in “The Sopranos.”Credit…Lucas Jackson/Reuters
By Jan Ransom and Alan Feuer
Jan. 23, 2020
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 said she was attacked. After shoving his way into her Manhattan apartment, she said, Mr. Weinstein took her to a bedroom, forced her onto the bed and, as she sought to fight him off, sexually assaulted her.
“I was trying to get him off me,” 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.”
The searing testimony in State Supreme Court in Manhattan marked the first time that one of Mr. Weinstein’s numerous accusers took the stand against him at a long-awaited criminal trial that has come to symbolize the #MeToo movement.
Five more accusers are also expected to testify that Mr. Weinstein attacked them. He faces charges of rape and criminal sexual act based on the allegations of only two of those women: an aspiring actress from Washington State who says Mr. Weinstein raped her in 2013, and a production assistant who says he forced oral sex on her in 2006.
The other three women will testify to similar incidents in an effort to show a pattern of predatory behavior, prosecutors said.
Ms. Sciorra’s complaint is too old to be prosecuted as a rape under New York law, but prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office plan to use her allegation to help support a charge of predatory sexual assault. To prove that charge, which carries a possible life sentence, prosecutors must show he committed a serious sexual offense against at least two people.
[The Weinstein trial began with vivid descriptions of several sexual attacks.]
Ms. Sciorra, who is best known for her role in “The Sopranos,” took the witness stand around 10 a.m. After rising to identify Mr. Weinstein, she gave an account of her assault, which she said took place in her apartment in Gramercy Park in late 1993 or early 1994.
She told the jury that on the night of the attack, she had joined Mr. Weinstein at an uneventful dinner with several other people at a restaurant in downtown Manhattan. Mr. Weinstein offered to drive her home, she said, and after he dropped her off at 10 p.m., she went upstairs, got into a nightgown and brushed her teeth, preparing herself for bed.
Moments later, she recalled, there was a knock at her door and she thought it was a neighbor or her doorman. But when she opened the door, she said, she saw it was Mr. Weinstein. Ms. Sciorra said he pushed his way inside.
When Mr. Weinstein unbuttoned his shirt, she said, she realized “he thought we were about to have sex.” She told the jury that she considered running into her bathroom, but before she could, Mr. Weinstein grabbed her in the chest area, led her into a bedroom and raped her on the bed, pinning her arms above her head. He then pulled out, ejaculating on her leg and nightgown, and told her he had “perfect timing,” she said.
“I was just shaking like a seizure — I don’t know how else to describe it,” she said. “I woke up, but I’m not sure if I fainted, blacked out or fell asleep.” She said that she woke up on the floor with her nightgown “kind of up.”
He then performed oral sex on her and said, “This is for you,” Ms. Sciorra recounted.
She said that when she saw Mr. Weinstein at a restaurant several weeks later, she confronted him about the incident. “This remains between you and I,” she recalled Mr. Weinstein telling her.
Under questioning by a prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, Ms. Sciorra acknowledged that she never called the police, saying she was “confused.”
“He was someone I knew,” Ms. Sciorra said. “I felt at the time that rape was something that happened in a back alleyway in a dark place.”
Ms. Sciorra said the attack left emotional scars. She started to drink a lot and even to cut herself. Sometimes, she recalled, she would slice her hands and fingers and paint a white wall in her apartment “blood red.”
In the years after the assault, Ms. Sciorra said, Mr. Weinstein continued to harass her. On one occasion, she recalled, he showed up unannounced at her hotel room in London, banging on the door, so she changed rooms in the middle of the night.
In 1997, Ms. Sciorra told the jury, she went to the Cannes Film Festival to promote her movie “Cop Land.” At 5 one morning, she said, she opened the door of her hotel room to find Mr. Weinstein standing in the hallway in his underwear. He had bottle of baby oil in hand and a videotape in the other.
“I couldn’t get past him,” Ms. Sciorra said. She said she “pressed all of the call buttons” on the telephone. “People came,” she added, “and he left.”
She said she remained mostly silent about the incidents until October 2017, when spoke to “a journalist” — likely a reference to Ronan Farrow, who published an account of the alleged rape in Manhattan in The New Yorker.
“I was afraid for my life,” Ms. Sciorra said.
Donna Rotunno, one of Mr. Weinstein’s lawyers, began her cross-examination by suggesting that Ms. Sciorra, as an actress, was accustomed to pretending and to playing “whatever role is required.”
“When you take on a role,” Ms. Rotunno asked, “you want the audience to believe you are the character?” Ms. Sciorra said that was true.
Then Ms. Rotunno quizzed Ms. Sciorra about the night she said she was attacked.
How much she had drank that night? “At max, a glass of wine,” Ms. Sciorra said.
“So, you hear this knock, you’re in a nightgown and you don’t say, ‘Who is it?’” Ms. Rotunno asked.
“No,” Ms. Sciorra answered. “I opened the door and he was right there.” Ms. Sciorra then acknowledged to Ms. Rotunno that after the alleged assault, she did not call the police or her friends.
“At the time,” Ms. Sciorra said, “I didn’t understand that was rape.”