10:03, February 21 104 0 theguardian.com

2020-02-21 10:03:06
Harvey Weinstein trial: jury expected to hear reading of Sopranos actor's testimony

The name that keeps coming up during deliberations at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial – Annabella Sciorra – will be front and center again on Friday when jurors are expected to hear a reading of a large chunk of her testimony.

Before concluding its third day of deliberations on Thursday, the Manhattan jury sent the judge a note saying it wants to review the cross-examination of the Sopranos actor and any follow-up questioning by prosecutors.

The jury has already focused on emails that Weinstein sent regarding Sciorra, including ones to the private Israeli spy agency he allegedly enlisted to dig up dirt on would-be accusers as reporters were working on stories about allegations against him in 2017.

Sciorra, now 59, was the first accuser to testify and took the witness stand nearly a month ago, telling jurors how the once-powerful movie mogul showed up unexpectedly at the door of her Manhattan apartment before barging in and raping and forcibly performing oral sex on her in late 1993 or early 1994.

On cross-examination Sciorra was grilled about why she opened her door in the first place and didn’t find a way to escape if she was under attack.

Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno asked: “Why didn’t you try to run out of the apartment? Did you scratch him? Try to poke him in the eyes?”

“He was too big” to fight off, Sciorra responded at one point. “He was frightening.”

Weinstein, 67, is charged with five counts stemming from the allegations of Sciorra and two other women – an aspiring actress who says he raped her in March 2013 and a former film and TV production assistant, Mimi Haleyi, who says he forcibly performed oral sex on her in March 2006.

Sciorra’s accusations are key to the most serious charges that jurors are weighing in the closely watched #MeToo case – two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. The charge requires prosecutors to show that a defendant committed a prior rape or other sex crime, but doesn’t have the statue of limitation constraints that would bar her allegations from consideration on their own.

The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of people who allege sexual assault without their consent. It is withholding the name of the rape accuser because it is not clear whether she wishes to be identified publicly.

  • In the US, Rainn offers support at 800-656-4673 or by chat at Rainn.org. In the UK, the rape crisis national freephone helpline is at 0808-802-9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800-737-7328) or 1800respect.org.au. Other international helplines can be found at Ibiblio.org.

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