Sexual abuse charges against Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) could go to the jury this week without a single defense witness to counter allegations that he had sex with a teen-age campaign worker.
Reynolds claims he wants to testify, but defense lawyers haven’t decided whether to call him or his wife as they work to save the 43-year-old from prison.
“Everybody wants to get up on the stand and say they didn’t do it--the jury wants to hear that,” Reynolds’ attorney, Sam Adam, said after three weeks of prosecution evidence.
But putting Reynolds on the stand also would open him to brutal cross-examination.
The defense expects to present its side this week, and the case could go to the jury as early as Wednesday.
Reynolds’ lawyers say the prosecution’s key witness, 19-year-old former campaign volunteer Beverly Heard, could be their own best witness. They will emphasize that she has changed her story repeatedly since June 2, 1994, when she reported Reynolds to police.
Reynolds faces a mandatory four-year prison term if convicted of criminal sexual assault. He also is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, child pornography and obstruction of justice.