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Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers say “Sopranos” star Annabella Sciorra recently concocted her claim that the disgraced Hollywood mogul raped her in the early 1990s.
On Friday, prosecutors called actor Rosie Perez to the stand at Weinstein’s sexual assault trial to rebut that defense with testimony that Sciorra told Perez she’d been assaulted.
A Weinstein lawyer told the jury in opening arguments Wednesday that Sciorra had confided to a friend who worked at Weinstein’s Miramax company that she’d had “awkward sex” with Weinstein, not that he had raped her, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi noted to New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke on Thursday. Illuzzi said Perez’s testimony would support Sciorra’s allegation.
Illuzzi told Burke that during a conversation between the two women only months after the alleged attack, Sciorra told Perez she’d been assaulted, and that several years later “Ms. Perez put it together and said, ‘Oh my God, Harvey Weinstein was the man who raped you!’”
On Friday, Burke allowed the prosecution to call Perez.
Weinstein maintains that all his sexual encounters have been consensual.
Testifying earlier was Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist who played a central role as an expert witness in the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby.
Ziv, of Temple University, would help the jury understand what rape victims experience and dispel myths about how they behave during and after the assault, as well as how memory works during a traumatic event, Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast said in her opening argument earlier this week. She said Ziv had found that victims typically don’t fight off their attackers or immediately report the assault.
“One of the most common rape myths is that sexual assaults are most commonly perpetrated by strangers,” Ziv told the jury of seven men and five women on Friday. “At least 85% of all sexual assault is perpetrated by somebody that is known to the victim — an acquaintance, a relative, a domestic partner.”
Ziv testified about these issues at the 2018 retrial that ended in Cosby’s conviction on charges he drugged and molested a woman years before. She said drugs and alcohol can cloud memories and prevent victims from giving a clear account of what happened to them.
Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis told jurors in his own opening that Ziv didn’t examine any of Weinstein’s accusers. The defense has argued that rather than fearing Weinstein, some of them sent him “loving” messages in the years after the alleged assaults occurred.
Sciorra, 59, is the first of at least four women — in addition to two Weinstein is charged with sexually assaulting — the prosecution plans to call as witnesses to show a pattern of predatory behavior. The alleged assault occurred too long ago for the state to bring criminal charges. Instead, prosecutors are using her testimony to show that Weinstein, 67, engaged in a series of “prior bad acts.”
Sciorra spent more than five hours on the witness stand Thursday, questioned by the prosecution and defense in a series of alternating rounds.
“So, Ms. Sciorra, you’re a professional actress?” defense lawyer Donna Rotunno asked.
“I am a professional actress, yes,” Sciorra responded.
“So you’re trained, you’ve had many acting teachers, you’re trained, and as part of that job you pretend to be someone you’re not?” Rotunno continued.
“No,” Sciorra said.
Read More: Sciorra Describes Gift of Popcorn, Then Rape
Sciorra says Weinstein stalked her for years after the alleged rape. In one instance, she testified, he had staffers book her into a room next to his suite at a Riviera hotel during the Cannes film festival, where she was promoting the 1997 movie “Cop Land.”
She said she answered a 5 a.m. knock at the door, thinking it was the makeup artist arriving to prepare her for a media appearance. It was Weinstein in his underwear, holding a bottle of baby oil and a video, pushing his way in, she said.
Sciorra told the jury she frantically hit all the service buttons, hotel staff arrived and Weinstein left.
The case is People v. Weinstein, 450293/2018, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).
- Weinstein Is ‘Serial Predator’ — and Innocent — Jury Is Told in Turn
- Weinstein Can Tell Jury That Women Bragged About Sex
- Defense Knocked White Women Off Jury, D.A. Says
- Weinstein’s Dream Jury Is Conservative, Traditional, Skeptical
— With assistance by Maria Elena Vizcaino
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