Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers are preparing to finish presenting their case on Tuesday, but not before answering the big question in the rape trial in New York: Will Weinstein testify?
So far, they say, he has not given signs that he will. His last chance to testify is Tuesday.
Upon leaving court on Monday, the once powerful Hollywood producer refused to answer a reporter who asked him if he was going to take the stand.RELATED
Doing so would be risky because prosecutors could riddle him in the interrogation about the heinous accusations that jurors have already heard in detail about six accusers.
Weinstein, 67, is accused of raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel in 2013 and forcing another woman by oral sex in 2006, production assistant Mimi Haley.
Prosecutors summoned other accusers and witnesses as part of an effort to show that he has used the same tactics to victimize many women over the years.
Weinstein affirms that all his sexual relations were consensual.
By policy The Associated Press does not publish the names of people who claim to have suffered sexual abuse unless they denounce publicly, as in the case of Haley. The name of the woman who accuses Weinstein of rape has not been revealed because it is unclear whether she wishes to be publicly identified.
The way in which Weinstein and his defense feel the case will be a factor in deciding whether to testify.
The trial has progressed much faster than what everyone involved expected. The jurors were initially told that they could hear six weeks of testimony. Now the final arguments are approaching by the end of the week, after which the deliberations will continue.
If Weinstein decides not to testify the judge will instruct the jury not to consider that decision as a sign of guilt.
“I do not like to miss an opportunity if I feel we are already on our way to victory,” said defense attorney Brian McMonagle, who was not involved in the case and helped cancel the first sexual abuse trial against Bill Cosby in 2017 .
“In some cases it is an easy decision because the client cannot give a credible explanation or you simply do not believe that your client could survive the interrogations of prosecutors for several reasons.”
Weinstein has seemed increasingly encouraged to enter and leave the court as the trial progresses, although in front of the jury the former entrepreneur has been sitting quietly at the defense table, eating mint pills, writing notes and occasionally sleeping.
On Monday after the strong testimony of a defense witness who repudiated the version of one of Weinstein’s accusers, her lawyer Arthur Aidala said: “It was a great day for the defense.”
Mexican model and actress Claudia Salinas took the stand to defend herself against the version of the prosecutor Lauren Marie Young that she was standing and did nothing while Weinstein sexually abused Young at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013.
“It never happened,” Salinas told the jury.
Young, who is also a model, testified last week that Salinas closed the door when she and Weinstein entered the bathroom, where he says he took off his clothes, touched his chest and masturbated.
When he finished, Young said he came out and saw Salinas standing outside the bathroom and repressed her with his eyes before leaving as fast as he could.
“If I had done that I would remember it,” Salinas testified. “I would never close the door on anyone”
Salinas testified on the third day of testimony from the defense and after more than two weeks of testimony presented by prosecutors.
In other important cases of sexual abuse, the accused have avoided testifying.
Cosby, for example, did not testify on any occasion that he was prosecuted for drugging and abusing a woman in his home in a suburb of Philadelphia. After the second trial, in 2018, the comedian was found guilty.
In another important case, Penn State’s assistant former coach Jerry Sandusky was willing to testify in his 2012 case for sexual abuse of children. But this was before his adopted son accused him of abuse while the case was going on. If Sandusky had testified the prosecutors could have summoned the son to testify.
“I tell my clients that once they get on the stand they lose their shield, which is me, and they are there on their own,” said McMonagle, who was not involved in Sandusky’s case.
“In my experience as a prosecutor and defense lawyer, it is rare to see a client on the stand. The problem is that some jurors take that against you. ”