Weinstein’s ‘disgusting’ gift to accuser
Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra has accused Harvey Weinstein of sending her sexually explicit care packages containing "chocolate penises" before raping her.
Sciorra alleges the fallen media mogul forced his way into her Manhattan apartment, pinned her to a bed and raped her in 1993. She was the first of six accusers to testify against him to take the stand.
On Thursday, Sciorra told Manhattan Supreme Court that Weinstein sent her care packages - complete with movies, a bottle of Valium and chocolate penises in the early 1990s after casting her in Miramax movies he was producing.
The gesture was "an effort to help me relax and not be so stressed," Sciorra testified, adding that she felt on edge because Weinstein wanted her to film back-to-back movies, the New York Post reports.
The first care package, sent to her Central Park West apartment, contained movies including "His Girl Friday," licorice, popcorn and a bottle of Valium, she recalled.
Soon after, a second gift arrived.
"It was a box of chocolate penises … I thought it was disgusting and inappropriate," Sciorra said.
Sciorra told the court she later attended a dinner with Weinstein and several other people before he drove her home. After she was dropped off, she entered her apartment, then responded to a knock at her door. Standing there was Weinstein who quickly pushed his way inside her Gramecy Park flat, the court heard.
"I was trying to get him off me," a tearful Sciorra told the jury. "I was punching him, kicking him."
But Weinstein held her down, she said.
"He got on top of me and he raped me," Sciorra continued.
The alleged rape was too long ago to lead to criminal charges but the judge has allowed the claimant to testify at the trial in an effort to establish a pattern of behaviour.
According to the New York Times, the district attorney's office plan to use her allegation to help support a charge of predatory sexual assault. To prove that charge, which carries a possible life sentence, prosecutors must show he committed a serious sexual offense against at least two people.
Weinstein is accused of raping one unnamed woman in a New York hotel in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Weinstein is also charged with two counts of rape and one count of criminal sexual act.
Damon Cheronis, one of Weinstein's lawyers, said during his opening statement that Sciorra had been unable to provide investigators with the exact date of the alleged rape, indicating only a period during the winter months between 1993 and 1994.
"Now, because there is no date given, we can't go interview people to figure out where Harvey Weinstein was that day," Mr Cheronis said. "We can't interview neighbours to figure out what happened."
Mr Cheronis added that "a good friend" will say that Sciorra had described the encounter with Weinstein as consensual, acknowledging that she had done "a crazy thing" Ms. Sciorra, he said, "didn't describe it as rape because it wasn't".
"It follows the narrative of the scary Harvey Weinstein who appeared in an apartment in Gramercy without checking in with the doorman and who barged into an apartment," Mr Cheronis said. "That didn't happen."
There have been multiple reports about Weinstein's alleged predation of scores of women - from high-profile actresses to production assistants.
In total, more than 80 women have accused the father-of-five of sexual misconduct dating back decades. Most of the accusers, who refer to themselves as "the Silence Breakers", aren't involved in his prosecution. But all of them share similar stories and have their hopes pinned on an eventual guilty verdict. Opening statements started this week, following two weeks of jury selection.
Weinstein's New York trial comes as he was charged in Los Angeles with rape and sexual assault in relation to two separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.
Weinstein once wielded so much power in Tinseltown that at the height of his success Meryl Streep described him as "God".
But the disgraced film executive is arguably now best known for his downfall which sparked the global #MeToo movement and is more commonly referred to by Hollywood's elite in less flattering terms.
Weinstein turned himself in to police in May 2018, but his downfall began in October 2017 when the New York Times published a story detailing decades of alleged sexual harassment by him.
In 2017, a cascade of voices refused to remain silent. Now there’s no turning back. Thank you to the #silencebreakers for changing everything. We'll keep fighting until every person is guaranteed safety, equity and dignity at work.— Rosanna Arquette🌎✌🏼 (@RoArquette) January 23, 2020
Actress Ashley Judd was among those to come forward, as were several former female employees.
The accusations included that he forced some of the women to massage him or look at him naked, for promises of career advancement.
Days after the New York Times piece, another bombshell story, in the New Yorker magazine, included allegations by 13 more women - including three accusations of rape.
Actress Asia Argento, as well as once-aspiring actress Lucia Evans, and an unnamed woman, claimed Weinstein forced himself on them.
Ms Evans' claim that she was forced into a sex act after going to his office for a supposed casting meeting, aged 21, had been part of the criminal case against him but was controversially dropped after prosecutors said she gave a witness a different version of events.
Hollywood reeled as more stars then came forward, one after another, with horrifying stories about Weinstein, prompting his British fashion designer wife Georgina Chapman to leave him.
Other big names who have come forward with sexual misconduct stories about Weinstein include Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Daryl Hannah, Salma Hayek, Heather Graham and Uma Thurman.
A-listers Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow also said they were harassed. British stars Cara Delevingne, Kate Beckinsale and Lena Headey told of creepy hotel encounters and The Sun revealed how Weinstein allegedly propositioned Myleene Klass with a "sex contract" at the Cannes film festival in the South of France in 2010.
Hollyoaks actress Lysette Anthony said Weinstein raped her in her London home in the 1980s - and in a recent TV interview she said: "I still have nightmares of white, revolting flesh, and skin with pores like bloody black volcanoes stuffed with crusty pus."
Recounting sleazy propositions from Weinstein, 12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong'o recalled how, after she rejected his advances and asked if they were then "good", he replied: "I don't know about your career, but you'll be fine."
As the allegations stacked up, Hollywood royalty including Quentin Tarantino, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and George Clooney deserted and condemned Weinstein.
Weinstein has denied all claims of non-consensual sex made against him.
His representative, Juda Engelmayer, said: "He's cautiously optimistic but anxious. You're looking at something that could put him away for the rest of his life, away from children and family."
Weinstein, whose bail was recently doubled over claims he tampered with his ankle monitor, recently broke his silence to claim he should be praised for his treatment of women.
Speaking from a swish hospital suite in New York after a back operation he needed following an August car crash, he said: "I feel like the forgotten man.
"I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I'm talking about 30 years ago. I did it first. I pioneered it."
He was hitting back after claims he faked his recent aliments to win sympathy.
The trial continues.