NEW YORK – “Sopranos” actress and Harvey Weinstein accuser Annabella Sciorra continues to be the focus of the jury in the ex-movie mogul’s sex-crimes trial as deliberations crawled into a fourth day on Friday.
The seven men and five women of the jury began another day of deciding Weinstein’s fate by listening to a read-back of a major portion of Sciorra’s testimony almost a month ago as the first accuser witness for the prosecution. After about an hour-and-a-half, the jury stated they’d “heard enough” and left the courtroom to deliberate behind closed doors.
Sciorra, 59, says Weinstein raped her after pushing his way into her New York apartment following a dinner in the winter of 1993-94.
The jury have also requested a list of people that Sciorra spoke to about her allegation, and asked for a read-back of testimony by her friend, actress Rosie Perez, who corroborated that Sciorra told her about the alleged rape.
And they sought emails that Weinstein sent regarding Sciorra, including ones to the Black Cube private Israeli investigative agency he hired to track some of his accusers and journalists in 2017.
Weinstein is charged with five sex crimes, including rape and predatory sexual assault, involving two women, Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi, who says he forced oral sex on her in a hotel room in the summer of 2006, and Jessica Mann, who says he raped her in a hotel room in 2013.
Weinstein is not charged with raping Sciorra; her allegation is too old to prosecute under the statute of limitations. Instead, her testimony was presented by the Manhattan prosecutors to support their assertion that Weinstein is a serial “predator,” which required them to demonstrate he assaulted more than one woman even if he wasn’t charged.
That, in turn, would allow a stiffer sentence if he is convicted, making the predatory counts the toughest of the charges against Weinstein.
She tearfully testified that Weinstein overpowered her. “I was punching him, I was kicking him, I was trying to get him away from me,” she said. “I was trying to fight him, but I couldn’t fight anymore because he had my hands locked (over her head).”
A few weeks later, she testified, Weinstein warned her in a “menacing” and “threatening” way not to tell anyone.
During cross-examination, the defense asked her why she opened her door to an unexpected knock at night and questioned how Weinstein could have gotten past the doormen in the lobby of her building.
Defense lawyers also showed a 23-year-old clip from an interview Sciorra did with David Letterman during a press tour for the movie “Cop Land” in 1997. The clip showed her joking with Letterman: “I’ve been caught lying a lot in the past few years.”
If jurors believe Sciorra’s testimony in addition to that of either Haleyi or Mann or both, it could ensure the longest prison sentence for Weinstein even though he was never charged with raping Sciorra 27 years ago or now.
Meanwhile, as lawyers and journalists wait for a verdict, speculation mounts about whether the time the jury is taking is an indication of which way they’re leaning.
Best not to waste any time peering at inscrutable tea leaves, advises New York trial attorney Benedict Morelli. Based on the questions they’ve asked so far, he doesn’t see a pattern pointing to a clear direction.
“While there is no direct link between the time a jury takes to deliberate and the direction of their verdict, a lengthy deliberation does reflect unanswered questions and potential uncertainty,” Morelli told USA TODAY. “For that reason, the longer the deliberations take, the more optimistic the defense will become.”
Weinstein, 67, pleaded not guilty to all the charges and denies any non-consensual sex.
The jury was scheduled to deliberate until 3 p.m. Friday when they would break early, Judge James Burke told them Thursday. “You are perfectly allowed to reach a verdict before that time or any time next week,” Burke said before dismissing the jury for the day on Thursday.