NEW YORK – Actress Annabella Sciorra gave emotional testimony Thursday that Harvey Weinstein raped her more than 25 years ago as she helplessly tried to ward off his aggressive advances.
“I was punching him. I was kicking him. I was just trying to get him away from me, and he took my hands and put them over my head,” Sciorra told the jury in Weinstein’s sex assault trial, her eyes welling up with tears and her voice breaking.
“He put my hands over my head like this,” she said, stretching her hands in the air to demonstrate for this jury.
Weinstein, who had been watching her from the defense table, turned his gaze away from the accuser as she emotionally detailed the encounter.
“He got on top of me and he raped me,” Sciorra said. During the alleged assault, she said, Weinstein performed oral sex on her, announcing that “This is for you.”
Sciorra, 59, is the prosecution’s bold-name witness; she has appeared in numerous movies stretching back to the early 1990s (“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”) and TV shows including “The Sopranos,” for which she earned an Emmy nomination.
In her five hours of testimony, she described freezing after the attack, adding that “It was just so disgusting that my body started to shake.”
She said had no romantic interest in Weinstein. The film producer arrived at her Manhattan apartment uninvited one night in late 1993 or early 1994 after a group dinner they both attended nearby.
Weinstein had dropped her off at her building and left – and she went upstairs to get ready for bed, dressing in a white nightgown that was a family heirloom from Italy.
But Weinstein managed to get to the 17th-floor apartment without a call up from her doorman and he forced his way inside, Sciorra told jurors.
Sciorra said she told her close friend, “White Men Can’t Jump” star Rosie Perez, about the rape around the time it happened. Perez may later testify to the details of the conversation.
Sciorra arrived in the courtroom with prosecutors shortly after 9 a.m., wearing a navy dress. She avoided looking at Weinstein’s defense table as she walked to the witness stand but rose from the stand to point at him when she was asked to identify her attacker by prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon.
In 1997, Sciorra agreed to take a part in “Copland,” a film produced by Miramax, Weinstein’s company. When she and fellow cast members, including Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, were at Cannes Film Festival promoting the movie, Weinstein knocked on her hotel room door at 5 a.m. and pushed his way in, Sciorra testified. She opened the door, believing it may have been a wake-up call for a work obligation.
“When I opened the door, the defendant was in his underwear with a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a videotape in the other,” she said.
Sciorra said she panicked and started dialing the front desk. Hotel staffers arrived, and Weinstein left.
And at one point over the years, Sciorra said, she confronted Weinstein, but his response only instilled further fear. She “tried to talk to him about what happened” and told him “how I woke up and that I blacked out, fainted.”
He responded that “That’s what all the nice Catholic girls say,” the actress said.
But his eyes “went black” and turned “very menacing,” she said. “He leaned into me and said this remains between you and I.”
Sciorra said on direct examination that she first met Weinstein around 1990 or 1991 at a party in Los Angeles that her agent took her to.
“I don’t remember anything remarkable about the conversation (at the party), only that he gave me his card and said that if I came across any scripts he was looking for some good scripts.”
She said she accepted a ride from Weinstein to the place she was staying in Malibu but the interaction was professional.
Weinstein also is charged with raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013 and with forcing a sex act on former producing assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006.
Sciorra’s allegations are included in the predatory sexual assault counts he faces 10 years to life in prison.
On cross-examination, defense lawyer Donna Rotunno confronted the witness as to why she didn’t complain to management at a Gramercy Park building or ask her doorman to explain how Weinstein got up to her apartment unannounced about 1 a.m. The lawyer suggested that Sciorra also told a onetime Miramax employee that she had “awkward sex” with Weinstein – but Sciorra flatly denied ever saying that.
Rotunno played a scene from a lighthearted Sciorra interview on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on Aug. 6, 1997, during which she admits to spewing elaborate lies in professional interviews to cover up details of her private life.
“I have a bad reputation, and I was caught recently in the last couple of years lying about quite a few things,” she told Letterman with a wide grin. “One was that about Dennis Hopper and my father raising iguanas.”
Letterman asked her how he could know she wasn’t lying in his interview that day.
“You don’t!” Sciorra said, in the clip played in the courtroom.
“Nothing further,” Rotunno said.
Weinstein’s defense started trying to poke holes in the case in opening statements Wednesday, pointing to Mann’s long history with Weinstein.
She swapped warm and “loving” emails with him for four years after she now says she was violently assaulted. In that time, they carried on a sexual relationship and referred to him as her “casual boyfriend.”
At one point, she broke up with a boyfriend while still involved with Weinstein, his lawyer Damon Cheronis told the jury.
Manning also sent repeated emails trying to set up dates with him in the years after the alleged attack at a Doubletree Hotel in Manhattan.
In 2009, three years after her alleged unwanted encounter with Weinstein, Haleyi emailed him asking him to set her up with a gig in London because she was “saving up to become a kundalini yoga teacher” and needed cash.
None of the accusers who will testify reported the alleged events to law enforcement before the dawn of the #MeToo movement in October 2017.
Actress Ellen Barkin was in line to get in the courthouse as early as 6:45 a.m. Around that time, she tweeted support for Sciorra.
“All my power All my heart All my strength I give to you dear friend and warrior … #AnnabellaSciorra I love you. ‘The truth will out’ #MeTooTooManyTimes,” Barkin wrote.
Kevin Armstrong in New York contributed to this report.