MANHATTAN (CN) — The iconic actress Rosie Perez choked up on the stand Friday as she recounted the promise of secrecy she made after her friend told her she had been raped by Harvey Weinstein.
Wearing a black pantsuit, Perez was called to testify in support of rape allegations detailed earlier this week by Annabella Sciorra, a fellow New Yorker whose work on “The Sopranos” earned her an Emmy nod.
Perez and Sciorra’s careers were both stars on the rise in the early 1990s after breakthrough parts in films made by Brooklyn director Spike Lee: Sciorra in 1991’s “Jungle Fever,” and Perez in 1989 with “Do the Right Thing.”
One night in 1994, Perez said she had called up Sciorra, "to hang out, to go out to the nightclubs, have fun."
“She responded in a really weird voice,” said the 55-year-old Perez, proceeding to mimic a low whisper.
“She said ‘I think something happened’, Perez recalled. "She said ‘I think I was raped.’"
“Do you think or did it happen?” Perez said she asked.
“She said ‘I think it was rape’ and started crying,” Perez testified.
Perez said she followed up with the distraught Sciorra after that phone call but respected her requests to not talk about the incident.
Later that year when the two women were in London, Perez said Sciorra finally “told me that it was in fact Harvey Weinstein who raped her.”
Sciorra, 59, recounted the details of her attack a day earlier over several hours of emotional testimony.
She told jurors it had been one night after dinner in the winter of 1993 or ’94 when Weinstein forced his way into her 17th floor Gramercy Park apartment.
She asked Weinstein to leave, and when he put his hands on her, she yelled.
“He put my hands over my head to hold me back and he got on top of me and he raped me,” Sciorra said.
"I said, 'No, no,' but there was not much I could do at that point," she said.
"My body shut down. It was just so disgusting that my body started to shake in a way that was unusual. I didn't really even know what was happening,” she said. “It was like a seizure.”
After the rape, Sciorra testified that Weinstein forced oral sex on her without consent.
Perez said Sciorra eventually told her in London that “he came on her leg and on her nightgown.”
"A family heirloom," she remembered.
Perez urged her friend to go to the police.
"I can't, he'll destroy me,” Perez said Sciorra told her.
Sciorra told the court a day earlier that she “disappeared” after the rape. “I began to drink a lot,” she said. “I began to cut myself.”
She said that she painted a wall in her home red and wiped blood from her self-mutilation onto it.
In one of her best-known roles, Sciorra appeared as Gloria Trillo in the third season of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” a vivid portrayal of a woman struggling with severe depression and suicidal ideation who has an affair with mob boss Tony Soprano.
Sciorra said she tried to confront Weinstein, recalling having said she thought she blacked out his attack.
"That's what all the nice Catholic girls say," the producer allegedly responded.
She said she had never given the producer any indication that she was interested in a sexual relationship with him.
Weinstein’s trial in Manhattan Supreme Court is expected to continue for five more weeks.
While the statute of limitations has expired for Sciorra’s allegations, prosecutors hope her testimony will illustrate a history and pattern by the 67-year-old former Miramax producer to bolster the count of predatory sexual assault carrying a possible life sentence.
Weinstein’s attorney Damon Cheronis pressed Perez on cross-examination why, as a good friend of Sciorra’s, she had not delved further into the alleged attack.
“We talked about it, and she said she didn't want to talk about it, and I left it at that,” Perez responded.
The Brooklyn-born actress choked up and wiped away tears as she recalled that she betrayed a promise to Sciorra to never tell another person about the rape. Years later that conversation occurred with Nicolle Wallace, Perez’s co-host at the time on "The View.”
Weinstein faces a life sentence if convicted of five felony charges, including two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree, rape in the first degree, and rape in the third degree.
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