Closing arguments, deliberations loom in Bill Cosby retrial
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial is set to go to the jury on Tuesday, but not before closing arguments pitting the prosecution’s portrayal of a serial predator against the defense’s contention that he’s the victim of a “con artist” who made up drugging and molestation allegations to score a big payday.
The defense rested on Monday after the 80-year-old comedian said he wouldn’t testify, echoing his decision at his first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year.
“You now have all of the evidence,” Judge Steven O’Neill told jurors, sending them back to their sequestration hotel after an abbreviated day of testimony. “Try to relax, so that you’re on your game tomorrow.”
Jurors at Cosby’s first trial deliberated for five days without reaching a verdict on three related counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
That trial hinged largely on chief accuser Andrea Constand’s testimony alleging that the “Cosby Show” star once known as America’s Dad knocked her out with three pills and violated her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in January 2004.
Cosby has said he gave Costand a cold and allergy medicine to help her relax before what he called a consensual sexual encounter.
The current panel of seven men and five women also heard from Constand, but both sides have given them much more to consider.
This time, prosecutors were able to call five additional accusers who testified that Cosby also drugged and violated them — including one woman who asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?”
Cosby’s new defense team, led by Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, countered with a far more robust effort at stoking doubts about Constand’s credibility and raising questions about whether Cosby’s arrest was even legal.
The defense’s star witness was a former colleague of Constand who says Constand spoke of leveling false sexual assault accusations against a high-profile person for the purpose of filing a civil suit. Constand got a civil settlement of nearly $3.4 million from Cosby.
Both juries also heard from Cosby himself, via an explosive deposition he gave in 2005 and 2006 as part of Constand’s civil suit against him. In it, Cosby acknowledged he gave the sedative quaaludes to women before sex in the 1970s.
Cosby’s lawyers devoted the last two days of their case to travel records they say prove he couldn’t have been at his suburban Philadelphia home in January 2004. Cosby’s lawyers argue that any encounter there with Constand would have happened earlier, thus falling outside the statute of limitations.
The date of the alleged encounter is important because Cosby was charged late in 2015 — just before the 12-year statute of limitations was set to expire.
But prosecutors pointed out multiple stretches of time that month when Cosby wasn’t aboard his private jet or performing around the country. And District Attorney Kevin Steele noted in court Monday that the records reflect only jet travel, not other modes of transportation.
The flight records and travel itineraries produced by Cosby’s lawyers do not show any flights in or out of the Philadelphia area in January 2004, indicating he wasn’t around for the alleged assault, according to the defense.
But the records also have large gaps — a total of 17 days that month in which Cosby wasn’t traveling, performing or taping TV appearances.
Cross-examining a defense aviation expert, Steele, the prosecutor, zeroed in on March 16, 2004, the date Constand said she confronted Cosby after a dinner he hosted at a Chinese restaurant for Philadelphia high school students.
Cosby’s private jet records don’t show him taking any flights to the Philadelphia area around that time, either.
“You can’t tell us whether he got on a commercial flight,” Steele said. “You can’t tell us whether he got on a train. You can’t tell us whether he got in a car and drove to Philadelphia.”
Jurors also heard Monday from Roslyn Yarbrough, a former secretary for Cosby’s agent, who testified that Cosby spent most of his time at his Massachusetts estate and New York City townhouse and was “very rarely” at the home near Philadelphia.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.
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