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Actress Mira Sorvino spoke at a news conference at the New York state Capitol on June 12, 2019, and described how she was the victim of sexual harassment and date rape as she urged for stronger state laws.
Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY — Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino tearfully revealed Wednesday that she is a “survivor of date rape.”

“I’ve never said that in public and I do not want to go into detail,” she said, her voice breaking, as she appeared at a press conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

He and sexual-assault advocates are trying to pressure the state legislature to drop the state’s statute of limitations on rape allegations and make it easier to press sexual harassment allegations. Sorvino was there to lend her voice of experience.

“I have never said that last part ever in public because it’s impossible sometimes to share these sorts of things and I’m doing it here to try and help,” Sorvino said. 

The New York native was in Albany to push for a measure ending what’s known as the “severe or pervasive” standard for sexual harassment. Under state and federal law, harassment must be considered severe or pervasive in order to rise to the level of a hostile work environment. 

That standard would be changed in state law under a bill proposed by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Pelham, Westchester County, and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, D-Queens.

The measure would make it illegal for an employer to subject an individual to any discriminatory harassment based on age, race, creed, color, sex, gender identity or a number of other protected classes, regardless of whether it is severe or pervasive.

“You feel shame. You feel like somehow it was your fault, that you should have been smarter, that you should have protected yourself better, you should have not taken that drink, who knows what was in it,” Sorvino continued Wednesday. “That somehow you got yourself into this situation.”

Cuomo applauded Sorvino’s courage, saying in the Capitol’s ornate Red Room, “I’ve been in this room many, many times on many issues, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more intelligent, powerful, persuasive point that you just made.”

Sorvino is one of the most prominent leaders of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements to call out sexual misconduct in Hollywood. She has previously alleged she’s been sexually harassed, sexually battered and assaulted and even gagged with a condom during an audition when she was teenager,

She was one of the first accusers of Harvey Weinstein, the fallen movie mogul who she says blacklisted her from movie roles for resisting his sexual advances in the past. 

She accused him of sexual harassment and battery and generally uncouth behavior. He is now charged in New York with five sex-crimes involving two women (neither of them Sorvino) and is expected to go on trial in the fall.

Weinstein is the first and most consequential Hollywood figure to be criminally charged in the #MeToo deluge of accusations that began pouring out in the fall of 2017.

Beyond Weinstein, Sorvino also has spoken out about the casting-couch mentality that ruled Hollywood in her youth, when she says she lost multiple roles because she wouldn’t jump on the couch when demands were made by directors or casting agents.

In an interview with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s podcast In Conversation, she told a shocking story of an audition for a horror movie when she was 16. She says a casting director tied her to a chair, bruised her arm and gagged her. 

“And I was all game because I’m trying to be scared for the scene,” she said. “And at the end, he takes the gag out of my mouth and he says, sorry for the prophylactic…That was one of my introductions to how the acting system works.”

Sorvino won an Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s 1995 film, “Mighty Aphrodite.”

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