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Harvey Weinstein Will Not Take Stand In Sex-Crimes Trial?

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What? Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein will not be taking the stand, in the sex-crimes trial, as defense rests its case?


Harvey Weinstein is charged with five sex crimes against two women in New York. USA TODAY


NEW YORK – Harvey Weinstein will not take the stand to defend himself at his sex-crimes trial, and his legal team announced in court that the defense rested its case. 


After testimony by one defense witness, followed by a long break in the witness room with his defense team, Weinstein returned to court, to be asked by Judge James Burke what he planned to do. The jury was out of the courtroom.  


He pled not guilty, and he is not going to testify, defense lawyer Damon Cheronis said. 


"Cheronis, does the defense have any more witnesses to call?" Burke asked. "No, your honor. The defense rests."


In criminal trials, a defendant is not obligated to take the stand to defend himself. The prosecution has the sole burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and all members of a jury must vote unanimously to convict or acquit. Judges typically instruct juries not to hold it against defendants if they decide not to take the stand. 


Burke said the evidence portion of the trial is concluded. The court will not be in session Monday, which is Presidents Day. Burke said closing arguments will begin with the defense and continue for the prosecution.


'Then Tuesday morning, I will give you the final instructions on the law, which should take about an hour, and then I will ask you to deliberate and reach a verdict on each count,' Burke told the jury. And that will be that.


Outside the courthouse later, Weinstein lawyer Arthur Aidala said Weinstein had been willing and anxious to take the stand to clear his name.”


During the break behind closed doors, Weinstein's defense team advised him he didn't need to testify because the evidence presented by the prosecution, was anemic at best,” Aidala said.


The only defense witness was Thomas Richards, a former Hollywood agent for accuser Jessica Mann, who said Weinstein raped her in a New York hotel room in March.


Under questioning from Aidala, Richards said he and Mann were friendly, spoke on the phone at least once a week, and saw each other once a month or so. He said he wasn't a friend of Weinstein's and testified under subpoena.  


He said he invited Mann to New York in to see a Broadway show; they stayed at the midtown DoubleTree hotel. Mann testified that she met Weinstein at the hotel and that he raped her after she accompanied him to a room.  


Richards said he couldn't remember anything standing out about Mann s demeanor, her hair, her breathing or her eyes when he encountered both of them in the lobby. 

Was there any indication that Jessica was at all upset or distressed? Aidala asked. No, Richards responded. The dynamic between Mann and Weinstein was friendly, Richards said.


When she pulled Richards aside to speak privately, she exhibited no distress, and seemed normal, he said. She told Richards she wanted to stay another night at the hotel at Weinstein's invitation, he said.


On cross-examination from Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi, Richards acknowledged he got a little tipsy at a bar the night before. He said he didn't see Mann s friend Talita Maia, who testified Monday, at the hotel. 


"Is it possible she was at breakfast and you just don’t remember?" Illuzzi asked. 


"It is possible," Richards said. He denied having a falling out with Mann. Then he was excused.


Monday, two defense witnesses, Mexican actress-model Claudia Salinas and Maia, a Brazilian actress, rejected they observed, heard or enabled the assaults alleged by Mann and Lauren Young. 


That never happened, said Salinas, about Young's testimony that Salinas helped Weinstein trap her in a hotel bathroom in Beverly Hills in February, where he allegedly groped her and masturbated.  


Salinas, who met Young at a Hollywood party a year earlier, said she didn't know whether the encounter described by Young happened, but if it did, I most certainly wasn't there, because I never saw that happen. Weinstein trial: Mexican model contradicts accuser's testimony about bathroom assault.


Mann testified that Weinstein raped her, and earlier assaulted her in a bedroom, in a hotel suite in Beverly Hills, while Maia was outside the bedroom door.


Maia, a friend, and former roommate of Mann said Mann never told her Weinstein raped or assaulted her or forced her to do anything against her will. Instead, Maia said, Mann seemed to be fond of him, speaking highly of him as her spiritual soulmate.


Prosecutors pressed them on cross-examination but were unable to shake the two women's insistence, that the encounters with Weinstein described by his accusers, either didn't happen the way the accusers claimed or left the witnesses with dramatically different impressions of what had occurred.


The trial is in its fourth week of witness testimony, having moved faster than anticipated. The prosecution, which rested its case last week, presented six accusers, whose graphic and emotional descriptions of Weinstein's body, and what they said he did to them, gripped the courtroom. 


Two women's allegations form the basis of the five charges: Mann and Miriam Mimi Haleyi, who said Weinstein assaulted her in his New York apartment. Talita Maia was called by the defense at the sex crimes trial of Harvey Weinstein in New York on Feb. 


Sopranos star Annabella Sciorra testified that Weinstein pushed his way into her New York apartment, and raped her. Weinstein is not charged in connection with her accusation, because it is too old to prosecute. Her testimony was intended to help bolster the prosecution's argument about the predatory nature of Weinstein's behavior, thus enhancing his sentence if he is convicted.


Monday, the defense called Nelson Lopez, the longtime resident manager of the Gramercy Park building where Sciorra lived, to testify that the security policy for the building, would have made it impossible for Weinstein to get past the doormen to reach Sciorra's apartment and that Sciorra never complained to him about such an encounter.


Mexican model Claudia Salinas leaves court after testifying in Harvey Weinstein's sex crimes trial Feb., in New York. 


Mark Lennihan, AP California charges Harvey Weinstein charged with rape, the sexual battery in Los Angeles over allegations.


Three other women, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Young, were Molineux witnesses, whose accusations were either too old or out of jurisdiction to prosecute, but were intended to help prosecutors prove that Weinstein was a serial predator, with a recognizable pattern.


Expert witnesses took the witness stand for both sides: The prosecution called a psychiatrist to testify about rape myths and how it is normal for sexual assault victims to maintain friendly or affectionate contact with their assailants, for years after their assaults. 


The defense called a research psychologist to testify about how memory fades over time – even as little as five years – and is susceptible to distortions, and false memories that feel true, even if they are wrong. 


Weinstein pleaded not guilty to all the charges and denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. 


He is charged with four similar sex crimes in Los Angeles County, including the alleged encounter with Young, but that case is on hold until the New York case is resolved. 

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