Harvey Weinstein defense rests case in rape trial
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Harvey Weinstein defense rests case in rape trial

Hollywood mogul, 67, faces life imprisonment if convicted of sexual assault charges against two women

Harvey Weinstein leaves a Manhattan courtroom during his rape trial in New York, February 7, 2020. (Richard Drew/AP)
Harvey Weinstein leaves a Manhattan courtroom during his rape trial in New York, February 7, 2020. (Richard Drew/AP)

NEW YORK — 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.

In this courtroom sketch, defendant Harvey Weinstein, far left, listens, as Assistant District Attorney Megan Hast, standing before the bench second from right, gestures while witness Mimi Haleyi, far right, holds a microphone during Haleyi’s testimony in Weinstein’s sexual misconduct and rape trial, January 27, 2019, in Manhattan Supreme Court in New York. (Aggie Kenny via AP)

Mann says the 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.

During the trial, Haleyi testified that the ex-Hollywood producer forcibly performed oral sex on her in a children’s bedroom in his New York home.

She described how Weinstein, who was then three times her weight, initially appeared “friendly,” before he backed her into a bedroom with children’s drawings on the wall.

“He was kissing and fondling me,” she said.

“I expressed to him the entire time that I don’t want this to happen,” Haleyi, added, sobbing.

Weinstein pushed her onto the bed and forcibly performed oral sex on her after pulling out her tampon, she said during the fourth day of testimony.

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.

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