Entertainment

Bill Cosby retrial, Day 2: First witness takes stand after defense calls accuser a ‘con artist’

CLOSEBill Cosby retrial, Day 2: First witness takes stand after defense calls accuser a 'con artist'

After a topless woman charged in front of Bill Cosby as he walked into his sexual assault retrial, his spokesman has asked for increased security for the comedian. (April 9) AP

Tuesday, the second day of Bill Cosby’s sexual-assault retrial, saw a fiery opening statement from Tom Mesereau, the comedian’s lead attorney, painting accuser Andrea Constand as a “con artist” in search of a big payday and the prosecution’s first witness, a psychiatrist who testified that her behavior after her alleged 2004 molestation was not uncommon for a sexual-assault victim. 

Cosby, 80, is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University’s basketball program, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

If convicted, he faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Here are the latest details from the courtroom:

Day 1 recap:  Prosecutor says Cosby paid accuser nearly $3.4 million in 2006

Psychiatrist: Constand’s behavior after assault wasn’t uncommon

Prosecutors in Bill Cosby’s retrial called their first witness Tuesday, a sexual assault expert intended to help explain his accuser’s behavior after she says he drugged and molested her in 2004, including not reporting the encounter for more than a year.

Psychiatrist Barbara Ziv told the jury it’s common for victims of sexual assault to be reluctant to go to the police, and normal for them to maintain contact with perpetrators.

Accuser Andrea Constand spoke with Cosby and saw him after the alleged assault at his suburban Philadelphia home, but waited until 2005 before going to police with her allegations. The prosecution is trying to blunt skepticism about Constand’s actions, which could have played a role in the jury’s failure to reach a verdict in the first trial. 

Ziv also told jurors that the use of drugs and alcohol can lead to clouded memories and prevent victims from giving a clear account of what happened to them.

Some 60 women have come forward with allegations against Cosby dating to the 1960s. In a deposition he gave as part of Constand’s lawsuit, the long-married comedian acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

In a 2005 deposition, Cosby said he gave Constand three half-tablets of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl. Prosecutors have suggested he gave her something stronger – perhaps quaaludes, a popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the U.S. in 1982.

Before opening statements on Monday and Tuesday morning, Cosby’s lawyers filed a motion seeking to exclude or limit testimony by Ziv and another prosecution witness who is an expert on sexual assault victims’ behavior.

Defense lawyer Tom Mesereau delivers a blistering opening statement

Mesereau, who took over Cosby’s defense in August, used his opening argument to launch a fierce attack on the comedian’s accuser.

He called Constand a con artist who took advantage of Cosby’s grief and loneliness over his son’s 1999 murder to gain his trust before framing him for sexual assault.

He said that Constand wasn’t attracted to Cosby but was “madly in love” with his fame and money, made up the accusations in hopes of a big payday and “hit the jackpot” with the $3.4 million he paid her in 2006 to settle her civil lawsuit alleging he drugged and molested her two years earlier.

Mesereau’s statement followed Monday’s opening volley by Montgomery County, Pa., District Attorney Kevin Steele, who revealed the comedian paid nearly $3.4 million in his 2006 settlement with Constand and argued that he wouldn’t have paid out so much money if the accusations against him were false. 

The defense team’s theory about what played out that night in 2004 was in sharp contrast to that of Steele, who said Cosby betrayed Constand’s trust by giving her pills and then assaulting her.

Mesereau, whose long white hair stands out in a courtroom, is the lawyer who won an acquittal in Michael Jackson’s 2005 child molestation case. He told jurors that Constand was in deep financial trouble and attached all of her hopes to what she could milk from her relationship with Cosby.

He said she stiffed roommates on utility bills, racked up big credit card bills and operated a Ponzi scheme while running women’s basketball operations at Temple University.

He said Constand outlined her alleged scheme to falsely accuse Cosby in a conversation with a Temple University colleague, Marguerite Jackson. The defense plans to call Jackson as a witness, and Mesereau said she will testify that Constand — inspired by a story they saw on the news — mused about setting up a celebrity so she could sue and get money. 

Cosby tried to call Jackson at his first trial but the judge blocked her as a hearsay witness after Constand said she didn’t know Jackson. Later, Constand remembered she knew a woman named “Margo” but Constand’s lawyer maintains Jackson has not told the truth.

For the retrial, Mesereau has permission to call Jackson to the stand, and she is considered a part of his overall strategy of attempting to undermine Constand’s credibility.

“A con artist is what you get, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” Mesereau said. “A con artist. And we’ll prove it.”

Security beefed up after topless protester episode

After a topless protester tried to ambush Cosby Monday morning, police have increased security measures around the suburban Philadelphia courthouse, where his case is being heard.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt praised the deputies for stopping protester Nicolle Rochelle but said that in the wake of mass shootings, more security measures must be taken. 

“Things have changed,” he told the AP. “You never know who’s going to want to make a name for themselves.”

When Cosby arrived at the courthouse Tuesday, a double barricade was in place and he was escorted inside by five sheriff’s deputies.

Cosby’s retrial begins:  What you need to know about the case

Contributing: Associated Press

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