Harvey Weinstein’s defense team kicked off their case Thursday afternoon, calling a former friend of Annabella Sciorra’s to undermine her allegation that the producer raped her in the early 1990s.
Paul Feldsher, a former ICM agent and producer of several Miramax films, said that Sciorra was one of his closest friends for several years. He testified that they once took a long walk, during which she admitted having done “this crazy thing” with Weinstein.
“My understanding was that she fooled around with him,” Feldsher said. “I don’t recall it being stressful.”
Feldsher worked as a producer or executive producer on five Miramax films in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including “The Four Feathers” and “Get Over It.” He also acknowledged that the Weinstein Co. had paid him $60,000 for work he had done in 2016 or 2017 as a consulting producer on “The Upside.”
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Joan Illuzzi, he was asked if he had discussed his testimony with Weinstein.
“Harvey is my friend,” Feldsher said. “I’ve talked to him for a long time, yeah.”
Illuzzi asked Feldsher about his phone records, which showed numerous calls to Weinstein, and asked why he had been in touch with him so regularly.
“Someone I knew was in trouble and I was speaking to him partially because no one else was,” Feldsher answered. “I felt badly that he was completely alone. I felt badly that it was difficult for him to be the recipient of due process.”
He said he had made it clear that he did not want to testify, but was subpoenaed by the defense.
Feldsher denied texting with Weinstein about Sciorra, but backtracked when Illuzzi confronted him with his texts.
“Listen, I’m learning a lot now and I had no idea that my texts would end up in a courtroom,” he said.
In one message, he told Weinstein, “I think she’s full of s—.” In another, he wrote, “I know you guys had an awkward whatever the f— night years ago.” In another, he said, “The rape version got her an agent at CAA.” He also called her an “a–hole.”
“Is it true that you were saying things that you thought Harvey Weinstein wanted to hear?” Illuzzi asked.
“Um, yes,” he said.
“And that’s what you’re doing today, aren’t you, sir? Aren’t you, sir, saying things in this courtroom that you think Harvey Weinstein wants to hear?” she asked.
“Categorically no,” he answered.
In another text message, Feldsher castigated Weinstein, writing, “If a lot of those girls had been my daughter I would have wanted to beat the s— out of you.”
“It was my understanding that Harvey had a sex addiction for a long time,” Feldsher testified. Later, however, he backtracked on that diagnosis. “I believe he had a voracious appetite for women. I am not a physician. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Sciorra was the trial’s first witness, telling the jury on Jan. 23 that Weinstein forcibly raped her at her apartment in late 1993 or early 1994.
“I was trying to get him off of me, I was punching him, I was kicking him,” she said. “He put my hands over my head to put them back and he got on top of me and he raped me.”
Defense attorney Donna Rotunno asked Sciorra if she recalled telling Feldsher that she and Weinstein had “awkward sex.” Sciorra said no.
Sciorra’s allegation is too old to be prosecuted, but the D.A.’s office is using her testimony to support two counts of “predatory sexual assault,” which allege that Weinstein is a repeat offender.
The prosecution rested its case earlier on Thursday, wrapping up two weeks of testimony that included tearful accounts from six women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault and rape.