Bill Cosby’s graphic testimony could undercut his defense
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NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby’s own words from 2005 might have undercut his defense on sexual-assault charges.
Prosecutors on Tuesday sought to maximize the impact of Cosby’s graphic deposition, in which he testified about his sexual encounter with chief accuser Andrea Constand and acknowledged apologizing to her mother a year later “because I’m thinking this is a dirty old man with a young girl.”
Cosby, 80, testified more than a dozen years ago as part of a civil lawsuit that Constand filed against him, and prosecutors won the right to introduce it at his sexual-assault retrial on charges he drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home.
In a transcript read to the jury, Cosby testified he believed the encounter was in 2004, undermining his defense team’s assertion that it had to have been earlier and thus outside the criminal statute of limitations. Cosby was charged in late 2015.
Cosby also testified he didn’t think Constand had come forward to collect a big payday. But his defense team has called Constand a “con artist” who set him up by leveling false accusations of sexual assault.
Montgomery County Detective James Reape, who has been working on the Cosby investigation since it was reopened in 2015, told jurors he wasn’t concerned about inconsistencies in Constand’s story, such as her early uncertainty over the date of the alleged assault, because Cosby’s testimony had filled in many of the blanks.
“The defendant said it happened. The defendant said it happened in 2004. The defendant said he was present. The defendant admitted to the contact that she said happened,” Reape told jurors. “When I look at who, what, when, where, why in 2015, I’m able to see the answers.”
Reape made clear what he thinks of Cosby: “I have strong beliefs that he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand.”
Cosby says the encounter with Constand was consensual.
As prosecutors approached the end of their case, jurors were expected to hear more from the deposition on Wednesday, including Cosby’s explosive testimony about how he gave quaaludes to women before sex.
The unsealing of the deposition, at the request of The Associated Press, led prosecutors to reopen Cosby’s criminal case and shredded his good-guy persona as America’s Dad.
Jurors got a sense of Cosby’s view of consent when the comedian described in the deposition reaching an area “somewhere between permission and rejection” during what he claims was a prior sexual encounter with Constand.
“I’m giving Andrea time to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about an area that is right there in the question zone,” Cosby testified.
He said he rubbed the skin above her trousers and “without talking I’m asking can I go farther.”
“I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything,” Cosby testified in the deposition. “And so I continue, and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
He then described the purported encounter in extremely graphic terms that had several jurors with their hands to their chins, some of them looking taken aback, pained or disgusted.
Constand has testified she rejected Cosby’s prior advances.
Judge Steven O’Neill ruled on Tuesday that prosecutors could have the “Cosby Show” star’s deposition testimony read into the record, handing the prosecution a key victory in its effort to portray the comedian as a serial predator.
The deposition also was included at Cosby’s first trial, which ended with a hung jury last year.
Prosecutors used another of Cosby’s statements, one he gave to police in 2005, to show how he described the encounter for which he is facing aggravated indecent assault charges that could send him to prison for years.
Cosby said he gave Constand 1 1/2 tablets of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to help her relax, then fondled her breasts and genitals, according to the police transcript, which also was read to the jury on Tuesday.
Cosby said Constand never told him to stop.
“We are petting. I enjoyed it,” the TV star said, according to the transcript. “And then I stopped, and I went up to bed. We stopped, and then we talked.”
Constand says Cosby knocked her out with the pills and then sexually assaulted her, penetrating her with his fingers and guiding her hand to his penis. Cosby told police he didn’t remember whether Constand touched his genitals.
The jury was expected to hear Wednesday about Cosby’s acknowledged use of quaaludes, a popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the U.S. in 1982, to help get women to have sex with him.
Cosby said in his deposition that he had obtained several prescriptions for quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s, ostensibly for a sore back. The long-married comedian said he never took the drug, instead giving it to women he wanted to have sex with “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.'”
“Quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with, and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case,” Cosby testified.
The comic settled Constand’s lawsuit for nearly $3.4 million.
Cosby’s lawyers argued the testimony is irrelevant to his retrial because there is no evidence he gave Constand the drug. Prosecutors have suggested otherwise.
On Monday, Constand rejected defense allegations that she concocted her story to score a big payday, and her mother testified that Cosby apologized in a phone call and called himself a “sick man.”
Andrea and Gianna Constand’s testimony followed that of five additional accusers who told jurors that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them two decades earlier.
The Associated Press doesn’t typically identify people who say they’re victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.