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Harvey Weinstein defence rests case in rape trial

The trial has raised complicated issues surrounding consent and abuse of power for the jury of seven men and five women to grapple with.

In this file photo taken on 24 January 2020 Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court for his rape and sexual assault trial in New York City. Picture: AFP

NEW YORK - Harvey Weinstein's defence team rested its case in his rape trial Tuesday, without the ex-Hollywood titan testifying, paving the way for closing arguments and what is expected to be complex jury deliberation.

Since testimony began on 22 January, six women have taken the stand in New York to say they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein, allegations the fallen film producer denies.

All of the allegations in the proceedings, which are seen as a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, are at least six years old, while one of them dates back three decades.

Weinstein, 67, faces life imprisonment if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges related to ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi.

Mann says the producer of "Pulp Fiction" and "Sin City" raped her in March 2013 while Haleyi alleges he forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.

The trial has raised complicated issues surrounding consent and abuse of power for the jury of seven men and five women to grapple with.

Under cross-examination, both Mann and Haleyi admitted to at least one consensual sexual encounter with Weinstein after the alleged assaults.

Mann, 35, admitted having a relationship with the defendant lasting several years. She described it as "degrading" and "complicated."

Weinstein's attorneys have argued that their client's sexual relationships were consensual and transactional, claiming the women willingly entered them to boost their careers.

Defence lawyers called seven witnesses including Talita Maia, a former friend of Mann's who testified on Monday that the alleged victim had considered Weinstein "a spiritual soulmate."

The attorneys confirmed on Tuesday that, as expected, Weinstein would not give evidence.

Defendants in US criminal trials are protected against self-incrimination by the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Weinstein "has wanted to tell his story for a long time" but the trial "was not the right forum," his spokesperson Juda Engelmayer said while leaving court, according to the New York Daily News tabloid.

Closing arguments are expected later this week before jurors will be asked to retire to reach a verdict.

The jury will consider five counts against Weinstein, including rape, a criminal sexual act, and predatory sexual assault.

To convict, jurors must decide he is guilty "beyond all reasonable doubt."

The jury must reach a unanimous verdict. If it can't then the judge may be forced to declare a mistrial.

Weinstein is also facing a separate sex crimes investigation in Los Angeles and is the subject of several civil complaints.