NEW YORK • Actress Rosie Perez took the stand in the rape trial of Harvey Weinstein last Friday to bolster the account of fellow actress and friend Annabella Sciorra, who said she was raped by the former Hollywood producer in the 1990s.
Perez, whose film credits include Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing (1989), said Sciorra shared details of the alleged assault, including that Weinstein had pinned her arms above her head as he raped her.
Sciorra, who appeared in The Sopranos (1999 to 2007), testified last Thursday that he violently raped her over 25 years ago. While that allegation is too old to support a separate rape charge against him, prosecutors hope it will show he is a repeat sexual predator - the charge that could put him in prison for life.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting two other women, Mimi Haleyi and Jessica Mann. Since 2017, over 80 women, including famous actresses, have accused him of sexual misconduct.
The accusations fuelled the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct.
Weinstein has denied any non-consensual sex. His lawyers said e-mails from the accusers would show they maintained warm relations with him after the alleged attacks.
Perez, testifying for the prosecution, said she called Sciorra one night to invite her to go out, but Sciorra answered in a "strange whisper of a voice". She asked Sciorra what was wrong and Sciorra answered: "I think something bad happened. I think I was raped."
Perez testified that when she asked Sciorra who had raped her, Sciorra said: "I can't, I can't."
Months later, Perez said, she heard rumours that Weinstein was stalking Sciorra in London and concluded he was the rapist. Perez said she called Sciorra, who confirmed her suspicion. Perez urged Sciorra to go to the police, but she refused, saying: "He'd destroy me."
Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis cross-examined Perez, asking her whether she went to check on her friend after the conversation. Perez said she had not.
"I was in a panic. I didn't know what to do."
Earlier on Thursday, forensic psychiatrist Barbara Ziv testified as an expert on why some sexual assault victims do not report attacks or avoid their abusers. She said most victims of rapes and sexual assaults know the attackers, do not fight back during the attacks and many maintain relationships with the attackers.
"They're hoping this was just an aberration," said Ms Ziv. Her testimony could help prosecutors show jurors why some women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct might have stayed in contact with him after it occurred.