NEW YORK – They met at a party in Los Angeles. She was an up-and-coming actress at the time. He was a young producer. As they got to know each other over the next four years, there were, she said, some "inappropriate" gestures: a care package of popcorn and Valium, a box of chocolate penises.
Then, Annabella Sciorra said on the witness stand Thursday, Harvey Weinstein raped her.
Fighting back tears, Sciorra testified in excruciating detail to a rapt courtroom about the night she said she was attacked. After shoving his way into her Manhattan apartment, she said, Weinstein took her to a bedroom, forced her onto the bed and, as she sought to fight him off, sexually assaulted her.
"I was trying to get him off me," Sciorra told the jury. "I was punching him, kicking him." But Weinstein held her down, she said, adding: "He got on top of me, and he raped me."
The testimony in state Supreme Court in Manhattan marked the first time that one of Weinstein's numerous accusers took the stand against him at a long-awaited criminal trial that has come to symbolize the MeToo movement.
Five more accusers are also expected to testify that Weinstein attacked them. He faces charges of rape and criminal sexual act based on the allegations of only two of those women: an aspiring actress from Washington state who said Weinstein raped her in 2013, and a production assistant who says he forced oral sex on her in 2006.
The other three women will testify to similar incidents in an effort to show a pattern of predatory behavior, prosecutors said.
Sciorra's complaint is too old to be prosecuted as a rape under New York law, but prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office plan to use her allegation to help support a charge of predatory sexual assault. To prove that charge, which carries a possible life sentence, prosecutors must show he committed a serious sexual offense against at least two people.
Sciorra, who is best known for her role in "The Sopranos," took the witness stand around 10 a.m. After rising to identify Weinstein, she gave an account of her assault, which she said took place in her apartment in Gramercy Park in late 1993 or early 1994.
She told the jury that on the night of the attack, she had joined Weinstein at an uneventful dinner with several other people at a restaurant in downtown Manhattan. Weinstein offered to drive her home, she said, and after he dropped her off at 10 p.m., she went upstairs, got into a nightgown and brushed her teeth, preparing herself for bed.
Moments later, she recalled, there was a knock at her door, and she thought it was a neighbor or her doorman. But when she opened the door, she said, she saw it was Weinstein. Sciorra said he pushed his way inside, forced her into a bedroom and raped her.
"I was just shaking like a seizure — I don't know how else to describe it," she said.
Under questioning by a prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, Sciorra acknowledged that she never called police, saying she was "confused."
"He was someone I knew," Sciorra said. "I felt at the time that rape was something that happened in a back alleyway in a dark place."
Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein's lawyers, began her cross-examination by suggesting that Sciorra, as an actress, was accustomed to pretending and to playing "whatever role is required."