UPDATED, 11:30 AM: Judge James Burke said that he will allow actress Rosie Perez to take the stand as a way for the prosecution to bolster Annabella Sciorra’s claim that Harvey Weinstein raped her some time in the winter of 1993-94.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said that they wanted to call Perez as the next witness. She said that Perez will testify that Sciorra told her in 1994 that she had been assaulted, but did not identify the perpetrator. Perez later pieced together information and Sciorra confirmed that it was Weinstein.
Burke will put some limitations on Perez’s testimony, as Weinstein’s attorneys have tried to highlight that Sciorra told prosecutors last year that she had told no one about the alleged assault.
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In cross examination on Thursday, Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno asked a number of questions about Sciorra’s continued interactions with Weinstein, including an instance in August 2017 in an acquaintance had reached out to get her phone number because Weinstein wanted it. Sciorra wrote that she “was just more broke than I ever imagined. Reaching out to friends in any way. I am hoping Harvey has a job for me.”
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“I was fishing” for information, Sciorra said in court.
UPDATE, 10:27 AM PT: The jury heard testimony today that Harvey Weinstein sought an investigator to pursue a list of names that included Annabella Sciorra in August 2017, just as reporters were preparing to break stories about his sexual misconduct.
Investigator Sam Anson, testifying for the prosecution, said that he received an email from Weinstein that month. Weinstein wrote, “red flags r the first to call.” The email included an attachment with a list of names. But in the image shown to the jury, most were redacted except one: In red lettering was Sciorra’s name.
On Thursday, Sciorra testified that Weinstein raped her sometime in the winter of 1993-94.
“Generally speaking, he was concerned about those people providing information to journalists,” Anson told the jury. “He was concerned that articles were being written…about sexual conduct in a negative way.”
Anson’s testimony led to a quick succession of questions from Weinstein’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, and prosecutor Joan Illuzzi.
In answering Aidala’s questions, Anson said that Weinstein specifically mentioned that he also was concerned that another accuser, Rose McGowan, was attempting to extort him.
It was not certain if her name also was on the list or if it was color coded red, but Aidala’s line of questions left Illuzzi miffed. After the jury left the room for a lunch break, she called for all of the names on the list to be unredacted, and it was suggested that they include women and men as well as journalists.
Illuzzi said that Aidala left the jury with the impression that the “red flag” list was of people Weinstein thought were trying to extort him, when “clearly that is not the case.”
Judge James Burke denied the request to take out the redactions.
In his testimony, Anson said that he never carried out the investigations.
Burke is expected to rule later today on whether to allow the testimony of Rosie Perez. Prosecutors say that she will say that Sciorra told her in 1994 about Weinstein’s assault, months after it happened. But Weinstein’s lawyers are objecting to her testimony, arguing that Sciorra had told the Manhattan district attorney last year that she had told no one about it.
PREVIOUSLY: A prosecutor’s expert witness on sexual assault testified at the Harvey Weinstein trial today that rape victims often maintain contact with their perpetrators after the traumatic experience. The testimony counters what’s expected to be part of Weinstein’s defense: a series of emails his accusers sent him after their alleged assaults.
Forensic psychiatrist Barbara Ziv, who also testified at the Bill Cosby trial, ran through a number of rape “myths,” or commonly held beliefs about sexual assault victims.
Ziv did not address the Weinstein case specifically, and told the court that she had not discussed the Weinstein case with prosecutors even though she was retained by them.
Ziv said that many victims have contact with their perpetrator after an assault.
“They almost always do,” she said.
Ziv said that many victims know their perpetuators — citing a figure of 85% — and after the assault they have an attitude of wanting to move on with their lives and putting the memories of the rape “in a box and just forget about it.”
They also “don’t want the perpetrator to ruin their reputation and friendships.” Their feeling is, she said, “God forbid they ruin the rest of my life.”
She also told the jury that it is “very rare” that victims go to the police, and challenged the notion that they will tell someone promptly about an assault. She described what she called the “shame” of the experience, even that they may believe that they may have done something wrong.
Women “sometimes will have subsequent contact” with their perpetrator “because they can’t really believe that this happened to them,” Ziv said. “They are hoping that this is just an aberration. You hear that all the time.” She said that many want to go back to the way things were, but the memory of the assault does not disappear.
She said that in many cases “there is an implied threat and sometimes explicit,” as a perpetrators will say things like, “If you tell anyone this no one is going to believe you,” or, “I will bring you down,” or “I will make sure you pay for it.”
She also said that another myth is that someone can determine whether someone has been raped just by their behavior.
“It is a disorienting experience, and their basic experience may not reveal they are horrified or grossed out,” she said.
A focus of Weinstein’s legal team has been on the behavior of his accusers after their alleged assaults. They plan to challenge accusers with what they describe as friendly and even “loving” emails sent to Weinstein. In his opening arguments, attorney Damon Cheronis showed the text of some of the emails and asked the jury whether it made sense that a victim would write such messages after their alleged assaults.
In his cross examination, Cheronis emphasized the fact that Ziv had not evaluated Weinstein’s accusers. He testimony was meant to be a general discussion of victims of sexual assault.
Weinstein, 67, faces five charges of sexual assault stemming from allegations by two women related to incidents in 2006 and 2013. Another woman, actress Annabella Sciorra, testified on Thursday that Weinstein raped her sometime in the winter of 1993-94. She is a part of the case as prosecutors try to prove that Weinstein was a serial predator.
Weinstein has insisted that all the sexual encounters were consensual. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
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