Cosby stays mum as his de­fence rests

Co­me­dian de­clines to gam­ble on the stand

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

BILL Cosby’s lawyers put on a case con­sist­ing of just one wit­ness and six min­utes of tes­ti­mony yes­ter­day, wrap­ping up the de­fence side in the sex­ual as­sault trial with­out the co­me­dian him­self tak­ing the stand.

The jury was ex­pected to hear clos­ing ar­gu­ments next and could seal the case in one af­ter­noon.

The big ques­tion go­ing into yes­ter­day’s pro­ceed­ings was whether Cosby would tes­tify – a gam­ble that could have al­lowed him to work his charm on the jury, but could have also ex­posed him to blis­ter­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion about the scores of other women who say they were as­saulted by the comic once known as Amer­ica’s Dad.

With Cosby’s wife of 53 years, Camille, look­ing on in the court­room for the first time in the six-day-old trial, the TV star told a judge that he had de­cided not to take the stand af­ter talk­ing it over with his lawyers.

Judge Steven O’Neill asked Cosby ques­tions de­signed to make sure he was aware of his right to tes­tify and wasn’t pres­sured into de­cid­ing against it. Cosby spoke loudly as he an­swered, re­spond­ing “YES!” or “NO!”

The lone de­fence wit­ness was the de­tec­tive who led the 2005 in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions that Cosby drugged and vi­o­lated An­drea Con­stand at his subur­ban Philadel­phia home in 2004. De­tec­tive Richard Schaf­fer was one of 12 wit­nesses who tes­ti­fied dur­ing the pros­e­cu­tion case.

In his six-minute ap­pear­ance yes­ter­day, Shaf­fer said Con­stand had vis­ited an outof-state casino with Cosby and that po­lice knew he had vi­sion prob­lems more than a decade ago. Cosby has said he is legally blind be­cause of glau­coma.

The judge shot down a de­fence re­quest to call a sec­ond wit­ness, a woman who worked with Con­stand at Cosby’s alma mater, Tem­ple Uni­ver­sity.

Cosby, 79, could spend the rest of his life in prison if con­victed. He has said the sex­ual en­counter with Con­stand was con­sen­sual.

Con­stand, a 44-year-old for­mer em­ployee of the women’s bas­ket­ball pro­gramme at Tem­ple, tes­ti­fied last week that Cosby gave her three blue pills and then pen­e­trated her with his fin­gers against her will as she lay paral­ysed and half-con­scious. Cosby’s spokesman sug­gested last week that the comic might take the stand. But ex­perts said the le­gal risks would be con­sid­er­able.

“He could be a fan­tas­tic wit­ness… He’s a very good ac­tor,” Duquesne Uni­ver­sity School of Law pro­fes­sor Wes Oliver said ahead of the court ses­sion. But “he is po­ten­tially open­ing the door to a whole lot of cross-ex­am­i­na­tion that they fought re­ally hard to keep out.”

Pros­e­cu­tors wanted 13 other ac­cusers to tes­tify at the trial, but the judge al­lowed just one, an as­sis­tant to his agent.

Cosby’s tes­ti­mony in her civil case showed just how hard a wit­ness he would have been to con­trol. His an­swers, like his com­edy rou­tines, me­an­dered and veered to­wards stream of con­scious­ness.

And he used jar­ring language to de­scribe his sex­ual en­coun­ters with var­i­ous young women. He spoke in the de­po­si­tion of “the pe­nile en­trance” and “dig­i­tal pen­e­tra­tion”. And he dis­played hints of ar­ro­gance.

“One of the great­est sto­ry­tellers in the world and I’m fail­ing,” Cosby said, when asked to re­peat an answer in the de­po­si­tion.

The Associated Press does not typ­i­cally iden­tify peo­ple who say they are vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault un­less they grant per­mis­sion, which Con­stand has done.

He could be a fan­tas­tic wit­ness. He’s a very good ac­tor

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

LIPS SEALED: Ac­tor and co­me­dian Bill Cosby ar­rives with his wife Camille for the sixth day of his sex­ual as­sault trial at the Mont­gomery County Court­house in Nor­ris­town, Penn­syl­va­nia yes­ter­day.

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