the law

Harvey Weinstein Will Not Testify in His Rape and Sexual-Assault Trial

Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein, who is on trial in Manhattan for rape and sexual assault, will not testify, his defense attorney said in court on Tuesday.

“Your honor, we discussed it. Mr. Weinstein has obviously pled not guilty,” said Damon Cheronis. “The state has not met their burden, and he’s not going to be testifying.”

“Mr. Weinstein, is that accurate?” Justice James Burke asked.

“Yes, that’s accurate,” Weinstein said in a hushed voice. Cheronis then said that the defense rested its case.

Weinstein’s decision was announced after an approximately 30-minute meeting he had with his lawyers in a private room.

As Weinstein left court, a reporter asked him whether he wanted to testify. “I wanted to,” he said.

Juda Engelmayer, Weinstein’s spokesman, said the former movie mogul didn’t need to testify.

“The prosecution didn’t meet the burden of proof, in our opinion,” said Engelmayer outside the courthouse. “Harvey was fully prepared to, and in the end, we decided, his lawyers helped him decide, not to do it because he didn’t have to do anything.”

“Harvey has been wanting to tell his story, to tell his narrative, to get his side out for a long time, and in the end, we didn’t need to do it,” Engelmayer added.

Weinstein’s decision not to testify isn’t surprising. If he took the stand, prosecutors would have the opportunity to grill him on everything he said, meaning a slipup could ruin whatever headway his defense team might have made.

The disgraced Pulp Fiction producer faces five counts in New York City involving two women, former Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haleyi and onetime actress Jessica Mann.

He is charged with criminal sexual act for allegedly forcing oral sex on Haleyi at his Soho apartment in 2006. He is charged with rape in the first and third degrees for allegedly raping Mann at a midtown hotel in March 2013. He also faces two counts of predatory sexual assault.

The actress Annabella Sciorra, who alleged that Weinstein raped her around late 1993, provided testimony to bolster the prosecutors’ claim that Weinstein has a pattern of predatory behavior. Prosecutors also called three other women to the stand who testified about alleged prior bad acts. Weinstein was not charged in New York related to any of these three other women’s allegations.

Weinstein’s legal team called a total of seven witnesses to the stand over the course of four days.

Some of those witnesses’ testimony didn’t bode so well for Weinstein. His longtime friend, producer Paul Feldsher, was called to undermine Sciorra’s claim that Weinstein raped her. When prosecutors questioned Feldsher during cross-examination, however, Feldsher said, “It was my understanding, for a very long time, that Harvey had a sex addiction and that he dated a lot of women.”

And a psychologist, whom the defense hoped would raise doubts about the accusers’ accounts, testified about false memories but wound up saying that she’s “not an expert in brain regions” when shown a brain diagram.

On Monday, however, two women provided testimony that undermined allegations from Mann and Lauren Young, one of the three women called to testify about prior bad acts. Young claimed that Weinstein groped her breast and masturbated after trapping her in a Beverly Hills hotel suite bathroom seven years ago. Weinstein is charged in Los Angeles for the alleged incident involving Young. He is also charged with rape in California for an allegation involving another woman.

Weinstein’s team will present their closing argument on Thursday.

Update, February 24: Harvey Weinstein’s verdict has been announced.

Weinstein Won’t Testify in His Rape and Sexual-Assault Trial