Judge: ‘Sopranos’ actress who alleges 1993 rape cannot testify at Weinstein trial
New York – “The Sopranos” and “Jungle Fever” actress Annabella Sciorra, who accused disgraced Tinseltown titan Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in 1993, will not be allowed to testify as a supporting witness at his upcoming rape and sex assault trial, a Manhattan judge has ruled.
Prosecutors hoped to use the 59-year-old television and movie star to help build a case of a years-long pattern of abuse by the Miramax founder. She has publicly discussed her alleged assault by Weinstein in her Gramercy Park apartment, and alleged years of sexual harassment afterward.
Justice James Burke refused to allow Sciorra’s testimony, but also refused Weinstein’s legal team’s bid to toss out some counts in its eleventh-hour push for dismissal.
The actress, who is not one of two accusers in the case against the disgraced producer, was expected to be a key witness for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Burke rejected prosecutors’ argument that language in the predatory sexual assault statute gave them “leeway” in terms of introducing “additional persons” at trial, and granted the defense motion to exclude Sciorra from the case.
Weinstein’s trial is set to start in Manhattan Supreme Court after Labor Day. His defense team is expected to argue the women were willing participants in any sexual encounters with the once powerful mogul.
Weinstein faces a minimum of 10 years in the slammer on the top count of predatory sexual assault. He’s also charged with raping a woman who hasn’t been publicly identified, at the Lexington Ave. Doubletree Hotel in 2013, and with one count of criminal sex act for allegedly forcing oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006.
Charges relating to a third accuser, Lucia Evans, were dismissed by prosecutors after they cited glaring inconsistencies with her story.