Harvey Weinstein’s legal team kicked off their defense on Thursday, calling former talent agent Paul Feldsher to testify about his close relationship with Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra.
Sciorra alleges Weinstein raped her in 1993 and 1994—a claim Feldsher said was not as visibly traumatic as she claimed on the witness stand. Recalling a conversation with Sciorra in the '90s, he said the actress admitted she’d “done this crazy thing with Harvey.”
“As I understand it all these years later, there was nothing that she told me that was shocking or alarming, there was nothing stressful,” Feldsher said, adding that he would not have been such a “passive friend” not to follow up if Weinstein had done something. “My understanding was that she fooled around with him.”
During cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi grilled Feldsher, a producer of several Miramax films, on his frequent communication with Weinstein over the past two years. He sent Weinstein messages about his unwavering “loyalty,” referring to Sciorra as an “asshole” and “liar” whose “rape version got her an agent at CAA.”
“I am loyal to you Harvey I will always have your back if you call on me. Honoring our agreement helps me know that you’ve got mine,” Feldsher wrote in one text message.
In another, he wrote, “I gotta tell you unless you make some sort of confession or you are proven legally guilty, I will continue to be the controversial cum inappropriate person who defends you.”
“If a lot of those girls had been my daughter I would have wanted to beat the shit out of you,” he wrote in a third message.
Felder admitted during cross-examination that he had discussed his testimony with Weinstein and he had “no idea” his text messages would end up in the courtroom. He described Weinstein as having a “voracious appetite” for sex. “It was my understanding that Harvey had a sex addiction for a long time,” he said.
As the prosecution’s first witness, Sciorra emotionally recounted to jurors how Weinstein allegedly showed up at her door after dinner, forced himself inside her 17th-floor apartment and raped her in the '90s.
Weinstein, 67, faces five charges, including predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape, for assaulting two women who testified: Miriam Haleyi and Jessica Mann. Haleyi, a former production assistant, told jurors Weinstein sexually assaulted her inside his SoHo apartment in 2006, and Mann said Weinstein raped her in 2013 inside a New York hotel room.
The prosecution rested its case on Thursday after calling 27 witnesses over two weeks—including six women who graphically detailed their alleged sexual assaults. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty.