Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to two new counts of predatory sexual assault, in line with a new indictment that expands his existing slate of charges and names a new witness who can testify to Weinstein's alleged abuse.
At a hearing on Monday, Justice James M. Burke pushed back Weinstein's trial date to January 6th, but ruled that Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra could take the stand even though her allegations are too old to be tried on their own. Sciorra says Weinstein forced his way into her Gramercy Park apartment in 1993, shortly after dropping her at home following an industry dinner. He "walked in like it was his apartment, like he owned the place, and started unbuttoning his shirt," Sciorra told the New Yorker in 2017. She told him to leave, she said, but he grabbed her instead. "He shoved me onto the bed, and he got on top of me," she continued. "I kicked and I yelled." But ultimately, Sciorra alleges that Weinstein first raped her and then tried to perform oral sex on her, only her violently shaking body seemed to scare him into leaving.
Before speaking with the New Yorker, she says she never told anyone about the attack—including the police.
Because the incident allegedly occurred over two decades ago, and New York state only eliminated the statute of limitations on rape in 2006, Sciorra's claims don't amount to new charges on Weinstein's docket. Still, prosecutors hope her testimony will support the central claims of the two women at the heart of Weinstein's trial by helping to establish a pattern of behavior. One of these women says the disgraced producer raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013; another, production assistant Mimi Haleyi, says Weinstein pinned her down and performed oral sex on her in 2006, at his apartment.
After the hearing, Donna Rotunno, Weinstein's lead defense attorney, told the press that calling Sciorra to the stand betrayed the prosecution's desperation.
"I think it shows the strength of our case, frankly, that the D.A. went to the grand jury in the 11th hour," Rotunno said, according to the NY Times. "The case itself is weak and they feel like they need this portion to help."
And while the prosecution has hit a few speed bumps: they had to drop one of the charges against Weinstein in October, after identifying some "inconsistencies" in Lucia Evans's story, and after it emerged that one of the NYPD detectives working the case may have interfered with evidence.
But lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon disagrees: Although the indictment adds "nothing new" to the charges against Weinstein, they still thought the prospect of introducing Sciorra's testimony worthwhile enough to put her in front of a grand jury and have them vote on a new indictment. In addition to Sciorra, the prosecution will likely call three other women who can attest to Weinstein's alleged "prior bad acts."
Weinstein has previously pleaded not guilty to two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of first-degree rape, and one count of third-degree rape. If convicted, he would face life in prison.