Weinstein Lawyer Aims to Poke Holes in Annabella Sciorra’s Account

Harvey Weinstein’s defense attorney sought to poke holes in Annabella Sciorra’s testimony on Thursday, highlighting her training as an actor in a bid to undermine her credibility.

Attorney Donna Rotunno had previewed that line of argument in a CNN interview before the trial, which prompted the prosecution to accuse her of disparaging the witness.

“In your movies you are a professional actress?” Rotunno asked on Thursday. Sciorra said she was. “As part of that job, you pretend to be someone you aren’t, is that fair to say?” Rotunno asked.

Sciorra said no, but Rotunno pressed on with the line of inquiry, getting her to concede that as an actor her job is “to convince an audience that you are whoever that character in that role is.”

On her direct examination earlier in the day, Sciorra had fought back tears as she recounted how Weinstein had raped her at her Gramercy Park apartment in the winter of 1993-94.

“I said ‘no, no’ but there was not much I could do at that point. My body shut down,” Sciorra testified. “And then it was just so disgusting that my body started to shake in a way that was very unusual.”

In going over the details of Sciorra’s account, Rotunno raised questions about decisions she had made along the way, including why she had opened the door to Weinstein without finding out who it was first.

“So you hear a knock, you’re in a nightgown and you don’t ask who is it?” Rotunno asked.

She also asked why she had not complained to her doorman about letting Weinstein up to her floor.

“I was devastated,” Sciorra said.

“Well, I’m sure you were but I’m asking questions,” Rotunno said.

She asked why Sciorra had not tried to get to her phone to call the doorman or 911 when she saw Weinstein coming at her.

“It happened very fast,” Sciorra answered. “Very fast. He just walked in. I didn’t know what was going on and then as he started coming toward me, I realized he was unbuttoning his shirt and then I started to back up to go into the bathroom.”

Sciorra had testified earlier that she didn’t report the rape because she knew Weinstein, and at the time she thought of rape as an attack by a stranger. Rotunno circled back to that, implying that Sciorra must have known what rape was.

“Ms. Sciorra, you were 33 years old at the time?” she asked. “Yes,” Sciorra replied.

Rotunno also asked about “Cop Land,” a Miramax film that Sciorra appeared in a few years later. Sciorra had testified that she was unaware that Weinstein’s company was producing it when she first got the script.

“When you were auditioning, as a seasoned actress, you didn’t ask the director and producer who was producing the movie?” Rotunno asked. Sciorra said no. She said she got the part, but turned down the initial offer, which she said was “very low.” She said she learned in the course of subsequent negotiations that Miramax was behind the film. She ultimately accepted the role.

“Ms Sciorra, why don’t you tell us how a seasoned actress at about 37 or 38 years old gets tricked into doing a movie you don’t want to do?” Rotunno asked. The prosecution objected, and the judge sustained the objection and broke for lunch.

As Sciorra testified, Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino shared their support for her on social media.

“Today we are all @iamannabellasciorra & yet she is there alone standing in for all of us,” Sorvino wrote on Instagram. “Her courage, honesty & willingness to submit herself to the lies & intimidation Harvey Weinstein & team will throw at her define her as THE consummate American hero.”

More Biz

  • MadeFor Productions

    Endemol Shine Sets Up German Scripted Label Ahead of Banijay Acquisition (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Black Mirror” and “Peaky Blinders” producer Endemol Shine Group has set up a new scripted label in Germany, Variety can reveal. Based in Berlin and led by joint CEOs Nanni Erben and Gunnar Juncken, MadeFor Film will focus on both high-end TV series and feature films for the domestic and international markets, as well as [...]

  • Deborah Dugan

    Recording Academy in Mediation with Ousted CEO Deborah Dugan

    The Recording Academy and its ousted president and CEO Deborah Dugan have officially entered mediation, just over a month after their dispute broke into the open, sources confirm to Variety. While a report in Billboard states that mediation began today, a source tells Variety that the two parties have been in communication for at least [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein deliberation

    Weinstein Jury Ends Day With Request for Annabella Sciorra's Testimony, No Verdict

    The jurors in the Harvey Weinstein trial ended their third day of deliberations on Thursday with a request to hear the testimony of Annabella Sciorra. The jury has now been deliberating for more than 14 hours, and will return for further deliberations on Friday morning. In a note to the judge late Thursday afternoon, the [...]

  • EFM Euro Film Policy Seminar

    Berlin: European Film Policy Seminar Examines Changing Landscape

    The Berlinale’s European Film Market opened on Thursday with the inaugural European Film Politics Seminar, offering a look at the pressing challenges facing independent European producers in a fast-changing landscape increasingly dominated by the growing number of U.S. streaming giants. The seminar was hosted by Steven Gaydos, executive vice president of global content of Variety. [...]

  • Gloria Allred clients suing Harvey Weinstein

    Are Harvey Weinstein's Accusers Planning to Sue? Gloria Allred Says 'This Is All Speculation'

    Gloria Allred is representing three of the six women who have testified in Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial. The high-profile attorney has been accused by Weinstein’s legal team of having plans to sue the former Hollywood honcho after his rape trial concludes. During closing arguments, Weinstein’s lead attorney Donna Rotunno said Allred sits in court every [...]

  • Friends TV Series

    'Friends' DVD, Digital Sales Soar as It Takes a Break From Streaming

    They’re on a streaming break — but “Friends” will still be there for you. WarnerMedia’s home entertainment division is aiming to capitalize on the brief disappearance of the hit sitcom from streaming video on demand, as fans look for other ways to get their “Friends” fix. Repeats of the wildly popular laffer, which ran for [...]

  • Berlin Film Festival

    Berlin Film Festival to Hold Minute of Silence for Victims in German Shooting

    The Berlin Film Festival has announced it will hold a minute of silence at its opening gala on Thursday for the victims of the shooting that took place in the German city of Hanau. “With great dismay and sorrow, the Berlinale learned of the fatal attack yesterday in Hanau,” the festival said in a statement. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content