Cosby re-trial set to be­gin

Regina Leader-Post - - CANADA - Michael r. SiSak

NOR­RIS­TOWN, PA. • Jury se­lec­tion is sched­uled to be­gin Mon­day as 80-year-old co­me­dian Bill Cosby faces charges he drugged and mo­lested Cana­dian An­drea Con­stand, a for­mer Tem­ple Univer­sity ath­let­ics ad­min­is­tra­tor, at his sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia home in 2004.

The judge in Cosby’s sex­ual as­sault re­trial hinted Fri­day that he could keep ju­rors from hear­ing the co­me­dian’s prior tes­ti­mony about giv­ing quaaludes to women be­fore sex, a po­ten­tial blow to the prose­cu­tion’s plans to por­tray him as a se­rial preda­tor.

Judge Steven O’Neill said at a pre-trial hear­ing that he won’t rule on the tes­ti­mony un­til it’s brought up at the re­trial, which is sched­uled to be­gin April 9 in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia.

“This de­fen­dant is not on trial for what he said in his de­po­si­tion,” O’Neill said.

The quaalude tes­ti­mony came from a de­po­si­tion that was part of Con­stand’s civil suit against Cosby. It was in­cluded in the first trial that ended with a hung jury and pros­e­cu­tors con­tend it is more ev­i­dence of his prior bad acts.

Cosby ad­mit­ted in the tes­ti­mony he gave quaaludes to a 19-year-old be­fore hav­ing sex in the 1970s, but his lawyers say it’s ir­rel­e­vant to the trial be­cause there’s no ev­i­dence he gave his ac­cuser the drug.

“The ’70s isn’t rel­e­vant in this case,” said de­fence lawyer Becky James, call­ing quaalude use then wide­spread. “It was not to as­sault them. It was not to make them in­ca­pac­i­tated. It was never with the pur­pose or in­tent of hav­ing sex with un­con­sent­ing women.”

District At­tor­ney Kevin Steele said the tes­ti­mony, along with the tes­ti­mony of up to five ad­di­tional ac­cusers, bol­sters their plan to por­tray Cosby as a se­rial preda­tor. Those women weren’t al­lowed to tes­tify at the first trial.

Pros­e­cu­tors say they want O’Neill to al­low the drug tes­ti­mony, be­cause oth­er­wise they’d only be able to use it to cross-ex­am­ine Cosby if he tes­ti­fies.

Cosby did not tes­tify in the first trial.

Con­stand says Cosby gave her three blue pills. His lawyers say quaaludes never came in that colour. The co­me­dian con­tends he gave her the over-the-counter an­ti­his­tamine Be­nadryl.

As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Ste­wart Ryan ar­gued Cosby’s de­po­si­tion tes­ti­mony is im­por­tant be­cause it shows he had an aware­ness of the ef­fects that cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem de­pres­sants, such as quaaludes, have on women, and it shows his ad­mit­ted in­tent for us­ing such drugs.

“The man sit­ting right over there said th­ese things and they were typed down,” Ryan said.

Lawyer Den­nis McAn­drews, who pros­e­cuted chem­i­cal heir John E. duPont for mur­der in 1997, said it will be a “closer case” if the judge ex­cludes the ev­i­dence.

He said Cosby’s tes­ti­mony along with an old com­edy rou­tine about Span­ish fly are ev­i­dence of his con­scious­ness of the ef­fects of the in­tox­i­cants and his will­ing­ness to use them.

“It is very rel­e­vant tes­ti­mony to show a pre-ex­ist­ing de­sire and will­ing­ness to use con­trolled sub­stances of any kind that are avail­able to fa­cil­i­tate non-con­sen­sual sex,” he said.

While O’Neill dealt Cosby’s lawyers a blow by al­low­ing the tes­ti­mony from ad­di­tional ac­cusers, Cosby’s lawyers are counting on him to make rul­ings crit­i­cal to their plan to por­tray the ac­cuser as a greedy liar who framed the co­me­dian.

Pros­e­cu­tors said the the­ory that Con­stand wanted to set Cosby up is un­der­mined by his tes­ti­mony in a 2005 de­po­si­tion that she only vis­ited his home when in­vited and that he gave her pills with­out her ask­ing.

THE ’70S ISN’T REL­E­VANT IN THIS CASE.

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