Closings next as Weinstein declines to testify at rape trial

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Harvey Weinstein leaves his trial, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The defense rested its case Tuesday in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial without the disgraced Hollywood mogul taking the witness stand, setting the stage for closing arguments in a landmark #MeToo trial punctuated by graphic testimony from six accusers.

As expected, Weinstein chose not to testify, avoiding the risk of having prosecutors grill him on cross-examination about the vile allegations. He confirmed the decision after returning to the courtroom from meeting with his lawyers behind closed doors for about a half-hour as speculation swirled that he was pushing to testify.

Asked as he left court if he was thinking of testifying, Weinstein said: “I wanted to.”

Defense lawyer Arthur Aidala added that Weinstein “was ready, willing, able and actually quite anxious to testify and clear his name” but didn't do so because his lawyers felt prosecutors ”failed miserably" to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jurors are expected to hear the defense's closing argument Thursday, followed by the prosecution's closing Friday. Jury deliberations are slated to start Tuesday. Court is closed Wednesday and again on Monday for holidays.

By not testifying, Weinstein followed the example of defendants in other high-profile sex crimes cases. They include Bill Cosby, who didn't take the witness stand either time he was tried for drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home. After a mistrial in 2017, a second trial resulted in the comedian’s conviction.

Weinstein, 67, is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping a different woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. Other accusers were called as witnesses as part of a prosecution effort to show he has used the same tactics to victimize many women over the years.

Weinstein has maintained any sexual encounters were consensual.