Cosby plans not to testify as his sex-assault trial begins Monday
Bill Cosby doesn’t plan to testify when he goes on trial Monday on sexual assault charges, but the rambling, remarkable testimony he gave in the accuser’s lawsuit could still prove pivotal.
The deposition from a decade-old sexual battery lawsuit, unsealed by a judge in 2015 at the request of The Associated Press, showed the once-beloved comedian’s dark side.
Cosby, a champion of family life after a 50-year marriage and five children, detailed his practice of inviting young actresses, models, flight attendants and waitresses to meetings that often featured pills and alcohol — and turned sexual. He called some of them mere “liaisons.”
But Andrea Constand, he said, was different. Cosby was a mentor and friend to the former Temple University basketball team staffer. She will take the stand this week and tell her story in public for the first time.
Judge Steven O’Neill hopes to keep the media frenzy from dominating the case as it did at O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. Like the Simpson case, the Cosby jury will be sequestered. On the other hand, cameras aren’t allowed in Pennsylvania courtrooms, as they were in the Simpson trial. But scores of photographers will be lined up outside the courthouse.
“We’ve had an O.J. hangover for many years,” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson. “What you worry about as the judge is that the lawyers don’t showboat, the evidence gets presented fairly, and that you have a jury that does its job and is not being thrown into the whole milieu of the trial outside the courtroom.”
Constand lodged a formal police complaint and then sued Cosby in 2005 over the night a year earlier, when, she says, he drugged and molested her at his estate near Philadelphia. Cosby had beaten back rumors about his conduct before, at least once by giving an exclusive interview to a tabloid to squelch a woman’s story.
Cosby and his agents, as they had with other women, offered Constand money for school when her mother, Gianna, called to confront him in January 2006.
“She said your apology is enough,” Cosby said in the deposition . “There’s nothing you can do.”
Gianna Constand will also testify, to describe changes she saw in her daughter that year and the phone call with Cosby they taped after going to police near Toronto, where they live.
The complaint was referred to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where the district attorney found the case too weak to prosecute.
Constand instead sued Cosby for sexual battery.
Thirteen women signed on to support her lawsuit, saying Cosby had also molested them. But Cosby avoided a trial by negotiating a confidential settlement with Constand in 2006.
The issue died down until 2014, when comedian Hannibal Burress called Cosby out as a rapist, leading dozens of new accusers to come forward. Months later, a federal judge granted an Associated Press motion to unseal parts of his deposition.
In one of the more explosive revelations, Cosby said he had gotten quaaludes in the 1970s to give women before sex. The news put a halt to his planned TV comeback and led networks to stop airing Cosby reruns.