In second day of the retrial, the defense attorney said Andrea Constand was interested in one thing: money, money and lots more money
Bill Cosbys defense attorney launched a relentless character assassination in a Pennsylvania courtroom on Tuesday, against the woman accusing the comic of drugging and molesting her, calling her a con artist and a liar who was interested in only one thing: money, money and lots more money.
In the second day of the retrial of the TV star, the famed Hollywood lawyer Tom Mesereau left little to the jurys imagination in his opening statement. Speaking for almost an hour, he repeatedly attacked the credibility of the key prosecution witness, Andrea Constand, a Canadian massage therapist who alleges she was rendered comatose and sexually assaulted by Cosby in January 2004.
You are going to ask yourself what did she want from Bill Cosby, the jury was told by Mesereau, as he shook his distinctive shock of shoulder-length white hair. You already know the answer: money, money and lots more money.
He added that Constand was a con artist. Well prove it. A con artist.
Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each carrying an upper sentence of 10 years in prison. He was tried for the same charges last June but the case collapsed after the jury was unable to agree on a verdict.
At the center of both trials are the allegations of Constand, who became a friend of Cosby while she was working at his alma mater, Temple University, as a manager of the womens basketball team. Constand alleges she was invited to dinner at the stars home, then given three blue pills to relax her and digitally penetrated by Cosby after she was effectively unconscious.
In the new trial, a fresh jury of seven men and five women has been convened. The star of The Cosby Show, formerly known as Americas Dad, has an entirely new defense team. Part of Mesereaus defense strategy was to arouse the sympathy of jurors. Having to sit through not one but two trials was brutal, he said.
Hes 80 years old and nearly blind, but eager to have his day in court he is now in the trial for his life.
Mesereau added: Mr Cosbys no criminal. He was foolish, he was ridiculous, he was lonely and attracted to a younger woman, but he didnt commit any crime and you will gladly find him not guilty.
Mesereau also invoked the 1997 murder of Cosbys beloved son, Ennis Cosby. As he did so the defendant raised a white handkerchief and dabbed his eyes.
But the overwhelming thrust was disdain for Cosbys alleged victim. Mesereau referred to a key defense witness, Marguerite Jackson, who worked with Constand at Temple University. Jackson was not allowed to give testimony at the first trial. But the presiding judge in both trials, Steven ONeill, has indicated he will allow her to appear this time.
Mesereau said Jackson was told by Constand she had been sexually assaulted by a powerful person. Later, Jackson asked Constand if she had been assaulted. According to the defense lawyer, Constand replied: No, but I can say I was. I can set up the celebrity and get a lot of money for my business.
The defense lawyer went on to present a raft of other criticisms of Constand. They included inconsistencies in statements to police; at least 100 phone calls between her and Cosby after the assault was alleged to have occurred, most placed by Constand; and a fraudulent pyramid scheme Constand allegedly operated while at Temple.
The prosecution is turning to the supporting evidence of five women who have alleged they were assaulted by the TV comic in strikingly similar ways, including being made incapable of giving or refusing sexual consent through drugs. In pre-trial rulings, judge ONeill granted permission to call the women into the witness box. In the original trial, the same judge only permitted one, Kelly Johnson, to appear.
The five include former supermodel Janice Dickinson, who alleges Cosby drugged and attacked her in Lake Tahoe in 1982; Janice Kinney, who claims she was also rendered comatose before being sexually assaulted in Reno, Nevada, in the same year; and Heidi Thomas, an aspiring actor who alleges she was drugged and molested in Reno two years later. Each of the women has alleged the same combination of pills which Cosby encouraged them to take as relaxants before he assaulted them while they were in a semi-conscious state.
Mesereau tried to negate the impact of the womens testimony by portraying their stories as irrelevant to the charges involving Constand. Its called prosecution by distraction, he said. When you dont have a case you have to fill the time with something else.
The other shift since the first trial 10 months ago is the eruption of the #MeToo movement. Prominent men in the Hollywood, the media, politics and other walks of life have fallen in a wave of accusations about sexual harassment and assault. More than 50 women have come forward to accuse Cosby, all before the explosion of #MeToo.
The prosecutios first witness was Dr Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist who discussed some common misunderstandings rape myths as she called them. She said it was the rule, not the exception, that victims knew perpetrators. Victims also took time to report incidents to the police.
Frequently, Ziv said, victims go back to perpetrators and even re-enter a relationship in the hope of understanding what happened and minimizing its significance. Where they do report to authorities, they will often begin by giving sketchy outlines of the attack and add details as they grow in confidence.
Im not sure I can think of one victim of sexual assault who did not feel humiliated, does not blame herself to some extent, and is not deeply ashamed about it, she said. Thats one reason why so many do not go to police, because when you do you lose control over your narrative and your whole life can take a tailspin.
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