Actress Annabella Sciorra took the stand Thursday in the criminal sex crimes trial of movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
She is the first of six women expected to testify that they were raped or sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Weinstein is charged with five counts of rape and assault against two women in New York City. Weinstein maintains all of the sexual contact was consensual.
Sciorra spent several emotional hours on the witness stand, testifying that Weinstein raped her in the winter of 1993-94. Through sometimes tearful testimony, she explained to the jury how she came to know the movie mogul.
According to the actress, the two first met at a party in Los Angeles sometime in 1990, after which he gave her a ride home.
As NPR’s Rose Friedman reported, Sciorra eventually set up a table read of a script for Weinstein. At the time, she said she did not want to act in the project but he insisted.
“He sent her gifts,” Friedman said, including “some penis-shaped chocolates and a bottle of valium.”
When she declined, Weinstein allegedly threatened to sue her.
But it wasn’t until another encounter in New York that Weinstein assaulted her, Sciorra told the court.
After a dinner with other film industry people, Sciorra said she accepted a ride home from Weinstein. “She says he dropped her off at her apartment building, she went upstairs, got ready for bed.”
A few minutes later, however, Weinstein was back, according to Scoirra.
She said he pushed his way into her apartment and began looking to see if she was alone. All while unbuttoning his shirt, she added.
Throughout her testimony, Sciorra attempted to preempt questions about whether or not she had misled Weinstein, saying that she never gave any indication that she was interested in a sexual relationship with him.
She recounted that he asked him to leave, and that when he put his hands on her she yelled and fought.
“”I said, ‘No, no,’ but there was not much I could do at that point,” Sciorra said before describing the rape in detail.
“My body shut down. It was just so disgusting that my body started to shake in a way that was unusual. I didn’t really even know what was happening. It was like a seizure,” she said
At one point she demonstrated how she says Weinstein, who towered over her by nearly a foot, held her down on the bed, standing up and crossing her wrists high above her head.
At times Sciorra cried telling the story.
She told the courtroom she tried to confront Weinstein about what she says he’d done, telling him she thought she had blacked out afterwards.
“That’s what all the nice Catholic girls say,” Weinstein allegedly responded.
Weinstein’s legal team has maintained that each of the incidents in the charges against him were consensual.
During cross examination, his attorney Donna Rotunno zeroed in with logistical questions about how Weinstein supposedly made his way into Sciorra’s apartment building, past the doorman and other security measures.
Rotunno asked how Weinstein knew the actress’s apartment number. She asked about the layout and whether Sciorra’s neighbors who would have heard her. She also quizzed her on why she was unable to get away and why Sciorra didn’t report the alleged assault to the police.
“I would say I felt at the time that rape was something that happened in a back alley … by someone you didn’t know,” Sciorra replied.