Actress Annabella Sciorra has confronted Harvey Weinstein from a New York witness box, her voice quivering as she recounted a rape accusation she kept largely private for decades.
“I was punching him. I was kicking him. I was just trying to get him off of me” after he pushed his way into her apartment and pinned her on a bed in the early 1990s, Sciorra told the jury.
She said he overpowered her, seizing her hands and holding them over her head, and raped her.
“I didn’t have very much fight left inside me,” Sciorra said.
“My body shut down.
“It was just so disgusting that my body started to shake in a way that was very unusual.
“I didn’t even know what was happening.
“It was like a seizure or something.”
When she ran into him about a month later and confronted him about what had happened, he said: “That’s what all the nice Catholic girls say”, she told the court.
Then, she said, he leaned toward her and said menacingly: “This remains between you and I.
“I thought he was going to hit me right there,” Sciorra said.
For more than a quarter-century, she told her story only a few people close to her about the encounter, until she came forward publicly in 2017.
Now, Sciorra has become the first of Weinstein’s accusers to give evidence at his New York City rape trial, seen as a watershed for the #MeToo movement.
The New York trial involves just a pair of the dozens of allegations that surfaced against Weinstein in recent years.
He is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on a production assistant in his apartment in 2006 and raping an aspiring actress in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
Sciorra’s allegations date back too long to be prosecuted on their own, but her evidence could be a factor as prosecutors look to show that Weinstein has engaged in a pattern of predatory behaviour.
Her evidence about events in the 1990s could give the jury of seven men and five women a sense of the breadth of Weinstein’s alleged wrongdoing and insight into the power dynamics at play in his interactions with young actresses.
Prosecutors previewed Sciorra’s evidence in a lengthy, at-times graphic opening statement that painted Weinstein as a sexual predator who used his film industry clout to abuse women for decades.
Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno noted that Sciorra never went to police or a doctor about the alleged rape.
“At the time, I didn’t understand that that was rape,” Sciorra said.
The lawyer also suggested that Sciorra’s judgment and recollection were clouded by drinking.
The actress said she remembered having only a glass of wine with dinner and had kicked a Valium habit that developed after Weinstein sent her pills.
Sciorra drew acclaim for her part in Spike Lee’s 1991 movie Jungle Fever and her role as a pregnant woman molested by her doctor in 1992’s The Hand That Rocks The Cradle the next year. She later appeared in The Sopranos.