Cosby sex­ual as­sault trial be­gins, faces up to 10 years in prison

Pros­e­cu­tors to jury: Don’t con­fuse TV dad with co­me­dian


NOR­RIS­TOWN, PA. | Bill Cosby went on trial Mon­day on charges he drugged and sex­u­ally as­saulted a woman more than a decade ago, with a pros­e­cu­tor warning the jury not to fall into the trap of con­fus­ing the 79-year-old co­me­dian with the beloved fam­ily man he played on TV.

Mr. Cosby used his power and fame to vi­o­late an em­ployee of Tem­ple Univer­sity’s bas­ket­ball pro­gram, As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Kristen Fe­den said in her open­ing state­ment.

The TV star pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted un­der oath that he gave An­drea Con­stand pills and touched her gen­i­tals as she lay on his couch at his sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia man­sion, the pros­e­cu­tor said.

“She couldn’t say no,” Ms. Fe­den said. “She can’t move, she can’t talk. Com­pletely par­a­lyzed. Frozen. Life­less.”

De­fense lawyer Brian McMona­gle im­me­di­ately at­tacked what he said were in­con­sis­ten­cies in Ms. Con­stand’s story, dis­puted that Ms. Con­stand was in­ca­pac­i­tated, and made the case that she and Mr. Cosby, who was mar­ried, had a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship. Mr. McMona­gle said Mr. Cosby gave her the cold and al­lergy medicine Be­nadryl only af­ter she com­plained she couldn’t sleep.

Mr. McMona­gle said Ms. Con­stand changed the date of the en­counter from mid-March to mid-Jan­uary of 2004. And he said Ms. Con­stand ini­tially told po­lice that she and Mr. Cosby had never spo­ken after­ward, when, in fact, phone records show the two talked 72 times af­ter mid-Jan­uary — with 53 of those calls ini­ti­ated by Ms. Con­stand.

Mr. Cosby is charged with three counts of ag­gra­vated indecent as­sault. He could get 10 years in prison if he is con­victed.

The TV star car­ried a wooden cane and grabbed his spokesman’s arm for sup­port as he walked past dozens of cam­eras into the court­house. Mr. Cosby’s wife, Camille, was not in court.

But ac­tress Keshia Knight Pul­liam, who played his daugh­ter Rudy on the top-rated “Cosby Show” in the 1980s and ’90s, was at his side as he made his way into the build­ing.

Mr. Cosby smiled but said noth­ing when some­one asked how he was feel­ing.

Ms. Pul­liam told re­porters she came to the trial to sup­port her TV dad.

“I want to be the per­son that I would like to have if the ta­bles were turned,” she said. “Right now it’s the jury’s job and the jury’s de­ci­sion to de­ter­mine guilt or in­no­cence. It’s not mine or any­one else’s.”

Ms. Con­stand, 44, of the Toronto area, is ex­pected to take the stand this week and tell her story in pub­lic for the first time. A woman who claims Mr. Cosby drugged and as­saulted her in 1996 will also tes­tify in an ef­fort by pros­e­cu­tors to show that he had pat­tern of be­hav­ior.

Mr. Cosby built a good-guy rep­u­ta­tion as a father and fam­ily man, on screen and off, dur­ing his extraordinary 50-year ca­reer in en­ter­tain­ment. He cre­ated TV char­ac­ters, most no­tably Dr. Cliff Huxtable, with cross­over ap­peal among blacks and whites alike. His TV shows, movies and com­edy tours earned him an es­ti­mated $400 mil­lion. Then a de­po­si­tion un­sealed in 2015 in a law­suit brought by Ms. Con­stand re­vealed that Mr. Cosby had a long his­tory of ex­tra­mar­i­tal li­aisons with young women and that he ob­tained quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women be­fore sex. Dozens of women soon came for­ward to say he had drugged and as­saulted them.

The statute of lim­i­ta­tions for pros­e­cut­ing Mr. Cosby had run out in nearly ev­ery case. This is the only one to re­sult in crim­i­nal charges against the comic.

Ms. Fe­den told ju­rors that celebri­ties like Mr. Cosby are seen as “larger than life.”

“We think we re­ally know them,” she said. “In reality, we only have a glimpse of who they re­ally are.”

Pros­e­cu­tors had wanted to call as many as 13 of Mr. Cosby’s more than 60 ac­cusers as wit­nesses, but Mont­gomery County Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that only Ms. Con­stand and the other woman could take the stand.

Celebrity at­tor­ney Glo­ria Allred, who showed up for the first day of the trial, told re­porters she is hope­ful that “there will be jus­tice in this case.”

Ms. Allred rep­re­sents sev­eral of Mr. Cosby’s ac­cusers, in­clud­ing the one who will tes­tify for the pros­e­cu­tion — a woman who worked for the co­me­dian’s agent at the William Mor­ris agency.


Bill Cosby ar­rives for his sex­ual as­sault trial with Keshia Knight Pul­liam (right) at the Mont­gomery County Court­house in Nor­ris­town, Penn­syl­va­nia, on Mon­day. Ms. Pul­liam played Rudy on “The Cosby Show,” which ran from 1984 to 1992.

Celebrity at­tor­ney Glo­ria Allred said that she is hope­ful that “there will be jus­tice in this case.” She rep­re­sents sev­eral of Bill Cosby’s ac­cusers, in­clud­ing the one who will tes­tify at the trial.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.