Harvey Weinstein's lawyers rested their case at the producer's sexual assault trial and told the court their client wouldn't take the stand.
One of Weinstein's lawyers said in New York state court on Tuesday that the fallen Hollywood power broker wouldn't testify because prosecutors hadn't met their burden of proof in supporting the charges of rape and predatory sexual assault against him.
Weinstein's defense team had ended its case by calling to the stand a friend of one of the producer's key accusers at the time of her alleged assault, Jessica Mann. The friend, Tommy Richards Lozano, testified that he didn't notice anything unsual in Mann's behavior or demeanor on the day she alleges Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel in March 2013.
At about 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke excused the jury of seven men and five women and allowed Weinstein to confer with his lawyers in an adjacent defense room about whether he would testify. When they returned, at about 11:20 a.m., defense attorney Damon Cheronis told Burke the defense would rest and not call his client.
"Mr. Weinstein, is that accurate?" Burke asked.
"Yes, that's accurate," Weinstein said.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with assaulting two women -- Mann in 2013 and Miriam Haley (formerly Haleyi) in 2006. Weinstein maintains that all the sexual encounters were consensual and mutually beneficial as the young women pursued their careers. The trial, which began last month in lower Manhattan, has riveted the nation and served as a focal point for the #MeToo movement.
Burke told the jurors that they should expect to hear closing arguments from defense lawyer Donna Rotunno and then from prosecutor Joan Illuzzi at the end of the week and that he would give them instructions on the law on Tuesday. The court is closed on Wednesday for Lincoln's Birthday.
The trial has moved faster than expected. During jury selection, Burke had told potential jurors it could run into March.
"So that's the plan," he said. "Do not come in tomorrow, because it's a court holiday."
Burke warned the panel, as he does at the end of every day, not to read about the case or to research it from sources outside the courtroom.
The case is People v. Weinstein, 450293/2018, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).
This article was written by Patricia Hurtado, a reporter for The Washington Post.