World / 27 August 2019, 11:29am / DANIEL BATES in New York
Harvey Weinstein on Monday denied two additional charges which relate to a rape claim against him by The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra.
The disgraced film producer said ‘not guilty’ after being accused of two allegations of predatory sexual assault.
Sciorra, 59 – who will now be able to testify at the trial – alleges that Weinstein raped her in the winter of 1993 in her New York apartment.
Her claims will let prosecutors argue that Weinstein showed a pattern of ‘predatory sexual assault’, the most serious of the charges which could see him jailed for life.
Weinstein is now accused of seven crimes, although the two new charges could be merged with existing ones.
In a further twist, the trial was delayed by four months after a last-minute attempt by prosecutors to introduce Sciorra’s claims backfired. Judge James Burke moved the case from September 9 to January 6 next year, a decision that Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno said showed the case was ‘weak’. In a bizarre light moment at Manhattan’s Criminal Court, Judge Burke asked the movie mogul if he wanted to go on trial. He replied: "Not really".
Weinstein, 67, had been accused of two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first degree rape and third-degree rape.
They relate to raping an unidentified woman in his hotel room in 2013 and forcing himself on Mimi Haleyi, a production assistant, at his apartment in 2006.
The new indictment only mentions claims made by Miss Haleyi and the unnamed woman. But the prosecution’s voluntary disclosure form states that an additional incident of Weinstein’s alleged predatory sexual behaviour occurred in winter of 1993-1994 at Miss Sciorra’s New York apartment.
Her lawyer Gloria Allred said she spoke to police because it was ‘in the interests of justice’ despite the stress it was causing her.
Miss Sciorra, who appeared in HBO series The Sopranos from 2001-4, spoke to the New Yorker magazine in 2017 in one of the articles that brought Weinstein down.
She said that she first met him in the early 1990s after appearing in films such as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. One evening he offered to drop her home and after going inside she heard a knock at her door, she told The New Yorker. Weinstein walked in "like he owned the place", she said. Sciorra said she told him to leave but he shoved her on to a bed and had sex with her. During the hearing Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said there were "no surprises here" about the new charges. She wanted to consolidate them with two existing counts of the same crime and was ready for the September 9 trial.
But Miss Rotunno asked for the full 45 days to respond and Judge Burke agreed.
The prosecution disclosure form also has new details about other women who will be called to testify. One says she was raped by him in February 2013 at a hotel in Beverly Hills, claims which match up with those of an unnamed Italian model and actress.
The 38-year-old has told the Los Angeles Times that Weinstein "bullied his way into my hotel room". She claimed to have said no but Weinstein ‘became ‘very aggressive’ and dragged her into the bathroom by her hair and ‘forcibly raped me’.The second claims that Weinstein forced him upon her in spring 2004 at a hotel near Park Avenue in Manhattan. The third claims that he did the same in spring 2005 in Soho, New York.
Last week Weinstein’s lawyers failed to get the case moved out of New York City, insisting it was the ‘least likely place on Earth’ where he could get a fair trial.
Weinstein was outed in US articles in 2017 after which his movie empire collapsed and his wife Georgina Chapman divorced him. Dozens of stars have accused him of inappropriate behaviour or sexual assault. Weinstein, who wore a black suit and trainers, and limped into the court, is free on $1million bail.