New York (AFP) – Harvey Weinstein’s defense team rested its case in his rape trial Tuesday, without the fallen US film producer giving evidence, paving the way for closing arguments later this week.
Since testimony began on January 22, six women have taken the stand in New York to say they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein, allegations the ex-Hollywood titan denies.
All of the allegations in the proceedings, which are seen as a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, are at least six years old, while one of them dates back three decades.
Weinstein, 67, faces life imprisonment if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges related to ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi.
Mann says producer of “Pulp Fiction” and “Sin City” raped her in March 2013 while Haleyi alleges he forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.
The trial has raised complicated issues surrounding consent and abuse of power for the jury of seven men and five women to grapple with.
Under cross-examination, both Mann and Haleyi admitted to at least one consensual sexual encounter with Weinstein after the alleged assaults.
Mann, 35, admitted having a relationship with the defendant lasting several years. She described it as “degrading” and “complicated.”
Weinstein’s attorneys have argued that their client’s sexual relationships were consensual and transactional, claiming the women willingly entered them to boost their careers.
Defense lawyers called seven witnesses including Talita Maia, a friend of Mann’s who testified on Monday that the alleged victim had considered Weinstein “a spiritual soulmate.”
The attorneys confirmed on Tuesday that, as expected, Weinstein would not testify.
The jury will consider five counts against Weinstein, including rape, a criminal sexual act, and predatory sexual assault.
To convict, jurors must decide he is guilty “beyond all reasonable doubt.”
The jury must reach a unanimous verdict. If it can’t then the judge may be forced to declare a mistrial.