Weinstein Jurors Focus on Predatory Assault, Most Serious Charge
The jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial asked to review more evidence about the alleged rape of actor Annabella Sciorra and attack on a “Project Runway” production assistant, indicating they are focusing on predatory sexual assault, the most serious charge against the fallen Hollywood power broker.
The jurors have been weighing the evidence for only two days, after hearing three weeks of testimony, and the charge comes first on the verdict sheet that may be guiding their deliberations. But as the seven men and five women call for testimony and other evidence to go over, their requests can offer clues to what they’re considering.
Weinstein has been charged with forcing oral sex on the “Project Runway” assistant, Miriam Haley, in 2006 and raping aspiring actor Jessica Mann in 2013. While the alleged rape of Sciorra in the 1990s is too old to be charged in New York state, the jury has been instructed to consider it in deciding whether to find Weinstein guilty of two counts of predatory sexual assault — each involving attacks on one of the two women plus Sciorra.
If convicted on that charge, Weinstein, 67, could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Weinstein says any sexual encounters with the women were consensual.
On Wednesday afternoon, the jurors returned to the courtroom to hear the testimony of actor Rosie Perez read back to them by court reporters. Prosecutors had called Perez, a colleague and friend of Sciorra in the 1990s, to rebut defense claims that Sciorra had fabricated her allegations in 2017 to advance a flagging acting career.
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Perez had told the panel she remembered calling Sciorra in the early ’90s and that her friend had told her in a haunted whisper, “I think I was raped.” She testified that she urged Sciorra to go to the police but that Sciorra had said she feared career reprisals from Weinstein.
“I can’t. He will destroy me,” Perez said Sciorra responded.
The jurors also asked to see the messages involving Paul Feldsher, a movie director called as the first witness for the defense to undermine Sciorra’s claims that Weinstein assaulted her. Feldsher testified that Sciorra, his friend, had once confided in him that she’d done a “crazy thing” with Weinstein.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi had confronted Feldsher with a series of texts in which he said Sciorra and other accusers were a “dog pile of actresses who are suddenly brave and recalling repressed memories.” She also highlighted texts showing he’d been in nearly constant contact with Weinstein since the accusers began to make their claims public in 2017, and his remark that Weinstein had a “sex addiction.”
Late Wednesday, the jury asked to see “all communications” involving Sciorra, as well as those regarding Weinstein’s hiring of Black Cube, a private investigation firm founded by former Israeli intelligence officers, and another investigator. Prosecutors allege that Weinstein was tracking Sciorra’s response as reporters began digging into allegations that the producer had a history of abusing women.
New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke told the jurors to return to court on Thursday to resume their deliberations.
The case is People v. Weinstein, 450293/2018, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).
- Weinstein Was Jekyll, Hyde, Then Rapist, Witness Tells Jury
- ‘I Think I Was Raped’: Jury Hears Rosie Perez Back Up Sciorra
- Jessica Mann Is Grilled on Contact After Alleged Rape
- Accuser Called Weinstein a ‘Soul Mate,’ Ex-Friend Testifies
- Weinstein’s Dream Jury Is Conservative, Traditional, Skeptical
- A #MeToo Moment Two Years in the Making
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