Prosecutors are making a last-minute bid to allow Annabella Sciorra, the Sopranos actress who accused Harvey Weinstein of rape, to testify against the former film producer at his criminal trial next month.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is seeking a grand jury indictment ahead of Weinstein’s September 9 trial, Variety reports. This would include Sciorra’s testimony — Weinstein was already indicted, but a new grand jury indictment would replace the original while allowing Sciorra to testify in court.
Sciorra alleges that Weinstein raped her in 1993. This falls outside of the statute of limitations for her to press charges, but prosecutors plan to use her story to reinforce allegations of predatory sexual assault. Weinstein faces up to life in prison if he is found to be a repeat offender, which requires evidence of at least two instances of assault.
Weinstein is facing five charges for rape and other sexual abuse crimes based on the accusations of two other women. Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant for a Weinstein Company television show, alleges he forcibly performed oral sex on her at his home in 2006. Another woman, who has remained anonymous, claims Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in 2013.
Weinstein may have up to 45 days to respond to the new indictment. However, his legal team expects that Judge James Burke, who is overseeing the trial, will try to avoid postponing the trial’s expected start date.
Arthur Aidala, one of Weinstein’s attorneys, told Variety that the defense will review all new developments ahead of the trial. “We’re gonna fight with all the muster that we have to make sure his rights are protected,” Aidala said.