Harvey Weinstein told a private investigator to approach women he suspected were detailing sexual misconduct allegations against him to journalists, his rape trial was told Friday, as the court heard from Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez.
Two months before the #MeToo movement ignited in late 2017, the then Hollywood titan emailed a "red flag list" of people he wanted investigated, prosecutors and a witness said in the high-profile proceedings which began hearing testimony this week.
The list included dozens of names, some of which were highlighted in red to indicate individuals that the now-disgraced movie producer was most concerned about.
They included the actress Rose McGowan, who Weinstein claimed was trying to extort him, and "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who accused him of rape in graphic testimony on Thursday.
Weinstein, 67, faces life imprisonment if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges related to two women.
He is accused of raping actress Jessica Mann in 2013 and of forcibly performing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi.
Investigator Sam Anson told the New York court that he received the email from Weinstein on August 17, 2017 but did not carry out his instructions.
Anson, who now works for LA-based Guidepost Solutions but then ran his own firm, testified that he also had a telephone conversation with Weinstein around the same time.
"He said that there was concern that articles were being written about him that would discuss his sexual conduct in a negative way," Anson recalled.
The New York Times and New Yorker magazine detailed sexual assault allegations against Weinstein in October 2017, sparking the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
More than 80 women, including Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek, have since accused him of sexual misconduct.
Actress Rosie Perez, nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for 1993 film "Fearless," testified Friday that she spoke to Sciorra on the phone the night of the alleged attack almost 30 years ago.
Weinstein waved at her as Perez was asked to pick him out in the courtroom.
"Annabella said, 'I think something bad happened. I think it was rape," Perez, 55, said.
Several months later, in 1994, she learned from Sciorra that the perpetrator had been Weinstein, Perez added.
"I said, 'Please go the police.' But she said, 'I can't, he'll destroy me."
Defense attorney Damon Cheronis accused Perez of contradicting the account she gave journalist Ronan Farrow in his New Yorker article when she said she learned of the attack well after it occurred.
He said now her story "mirrored" Sciorra's.
The prosecution also called former playboy model Kara Young who told the court that while watching the 1994 Oscars at a friend's house she noticed that Sciorra had cuts on her upper thighs.
"She said she was cutting herself," Young, 45, said, bolstering Sciorra's testimony that she started self-harming after the alleged attack.
Weinstein says all his sexual relationships were consensual.
Defense attorneys have presented correspondence between Mann and Weinstein which they say show the pair were "in a loving relationship."
Early Friday, the prosecution called forensic psychiatrist Barbara Ziv to dispel several "myths" surrounding rape.
Ziv, who testified when comedian Bill Cosby was convicted of sexual assault, said victims of sexual assault commonly remain in contact with their attacker for years after the incident.
"That contact can range from text messages to emails to continuing a relationship with them," she said.
The psychiatrist said victims often keep quiet because they possess some sort of affection for the abuser or because the perpetrator may also have the power to wreck their job and other relationships.
"I can handle this trauma but God forbid they could ruin the rest of my life and make it impossible for me to go on," victims sometimes think, Ziv said.
Cheronis challenged Ziv on whether women ever report a consensual sexual encounter as a rape years later "out of shame."
"Anything is possible, (but) it's not usual," she replied.
The trial continues.
New York, United States | AFP