NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein is expected to call several more defense witnesses on Monday in his New York rape trial, now nearing its conclusion well ahead of schedule.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann and to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi. Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
The former producer, who was behind films including “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied any nonconsensual sex.
His trial is a key moment in the #MeToo movement in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct. The trial began Jan. 6 and was originally predicted to last up to two months, but it now appears that lawyers could deliver their closing arguments as soon as this week.
Weinstein faces life in prison if convicted of predatory sexual assault, the most serious charge against him.
Prosecutors rested their case last Thursday after jurors heard testimony from six women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, including Mann, Haleyi and Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her home in the early 1990s.
Weinstein’s defense team began their case by calling Paul Feldsher, who was a close friend of Sciorra around that time.
Feldsher testified that Sciorra told him she had done a “crazy thing with Harvey,” which he understood to mean a sexual encounter, and gave no indication that it was nonconsensual.
Feldsher appeared surprised during cross-examination when a prosecutor presented him with texts he had sent Weinstein since October 2017, in which he promised the former producer his loyalty and harshly disparaged Sciorra and other accusers, calling them a “dog pile of actresses.”
The defense case continued Friday with testimony from Elizabeth Loftus, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and well-known expert on memory who testified that memories could be distorted over time.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Grant McCool