Rosie Perez Testifies in Harvey Weinstein Trial to Bolster Rape Allegation

Rosie Perez Testifies in Harvey Weinstein Trial to Bolster Rape Allegation


The actress Rosie Perez took the witness stand at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial on Friday to bolster the account of her friend Annabella Sciorra, who testified that Mr. Weinstein had raped her.

On Thursday, Ms. Sciorra, an actress known for her work in “The Sopranos” and “Jungle Fever,” told the jury that Mr. Weinstein had pushed his way into her Manhattan apartment and raped her after giving her a ride home from a dinner party in the winter of 1993 and 1994.

Prosecutors have said that Ms. Sciorra told Ms. Perez at the time: “I think something bad happened to me. I think I was raped.” But she did not name her attacker.

Several months later, however, in another call to Ms. Perez, Ms. Sciorra identified the man she claimed had assaulted her: It was the film producer Harvey Weinstein, according to the prosecutors’ account.

Ms. Perez, known for her roles in “Do the Right Thing,” and “White Men Can’t Jump,” was expected to give testimony about what Ms. Sciorra had said to her on both occasions.

Six women are testifying against Mr. Weinstein at his trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, where he faces five felony counts, including rape and predatory sexual assault. Mr. Weinstein could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on the last charge.

The trial is widely seen as a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, the global reckoning over sexual harassment and assault that began in October 2017 with revelations about Mr. Weinstein’s alleged mistreatment of women over decades. More than 90 women have since come forward to accuse the once-powerful producer of sexual misconduct.

The jury of seven men and five women are being asked to wade into complex questions about consent and power. Mr. Weinstein’s lawyers say the women who have accused him willingly had sex with him to advance their careers. Prosecutors say he manipulated them with promises of work, and then, once alone with the women, physically overpowered them.

Mr. Weinstein was once a Hollywood giant, a feared executive who reshaped the independent movie industry with Oscar winners like “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction,” and who was a donor to former President Bill Clinton and other Democrats.

But as the jury listened to gripping testimony this week from two of Mr. Weinstein’s accusers, the producer sat at the defense table quietly scribbling on a notepad and whispering to his lawyers.

Behind him in the courtroom gallery, a single longtime friend, Bill Currao, showed up to support Mr. Weinstein. Beside Mr. Currao were not Mr. Weinstein’s family members or other friends, but associates of the lawyers defending him.

The indictment only charges Mr. Weinstein with sexually assaulting two women: Mimi Haleyi, who was a production assistant on his show “Project Runway,” and a hairstylist and aspiring actress from Washington State, whom The New York Times is not naming because she is an alleged rape victim.

Mr. Weinstein is accused of forcing oral sex on Ms. Haleyi in his TriBeCa apartment in 2006 and raping the actress at a Doubletree Hotel in Midtown Manhattan in 2013.

Ms. Sciorra was called by prosecutors to bolster the charge of predatory sexual assault. The five-year time limit for filing a separate rape charge in the attack she described has long passed.

Justice James A. Burke has ruled that three other women can testify about their allegations that Mr. Weinstein attacked them, even though he is not charged with crimes in those cases.

Prosecutors have the judge’s permission to use the testimony of those witnesses to establish that Mr. Weinstein has a longstanding pattern of preying on young women. A similar trial tactic helped lead to a conviction of Bill Cosby on a sexual assault charge in Pennsylvania.

Earlier on Friday, Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist who provided expert testimony in Mr. Cosby’s second trial, explained to jurors in the Weinstein case why a woman might remain in contact with her attacker after an assault.

The defense lawyers have told the jury that Ms. Haleyi and the aspiring actress from Washington State stayed in touch with Mr. Weinstein for years after they said he sexually assaulted them. They have pointed to hundreds of friendly emails and other communications the women exchanged with Mr. Weinstein.

In the actress’s case, the correspondence suggests that she continued to have an intimate relationship with him.

Prosecutors called Dr. Ziv to undermine the defense’s argument that the communications show that his encounters with his accusers were consensual. She said that it is common for sexual assault victims to stay in contact with an attacker if they know or work with the person. One reason, she said, is a desire to move past the incident. Some victims also want to avoid hurting their jobs or reputations. Sometimes, she added, the attacker will also threaten the victim into silence.

“There’s always a worry on the part of the victim that a perpetrator can invade other aspects of their life and ruin their life,” she said.



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