Ac­cuser de­nies fram­ing Cosby

An­drea Con­stand says she did not plot to set up co­me­dian; does not know key wit­ness

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael R. Sisak

NORRISTOWN » Bill Cosby’s chief ac­cuser at his sex­ual-as­sault trial on Mon­day de­nied fram­ing him and said she doesn’t know a key wit­ness who plans to tes­tify she spoke of lev­el­ing false ac­cu­sa­tions against a celebrity.

An­drea Con­stand told jurors she doesn’t “re­call ever hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with” Mar­guerite Jack­son. Both women worked at Tem­ple Univer­sity around the time Con­stand says Cosby drugged and mo­lested her at the co­me­dian’s sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia home in 2004.

The de­fense plans to call Jack­son as a wit­ness and says she will tes­tify that be­fore Con­stand lodged her al­le­ga­tions against Cosby in 2005, Con­stand had mused to her about set­ting up a “high-pro­file per­son” and fil­ing suit. Jack­son has said that she and Con­stand worked closely to­gether, had been friends and had shared ho­tel rooms sev­eral times.

A judge blocked Jack­son from tes­ti­fy­ing at last year’s trial, which ended in a hung jury, af­ter Con­stand took the stand and de­nied know­ing her. At the time, Judge Steven O’Neill ruled Jack­son’s tes­ti­mony would be hearsay. Since then, pros­e­cu­tors have told Cosby’s lawyers that Con­stand had mod­i­fied her state­ment to ac­knowl­edge she “re­calls a Margo.”

The judge has ruled that Jack­son can take the stand at the re­trial but in­di­cated he could re­visit the is­sue af­ter Con­stand was fin­ished tes­ti­fy­ing.

Jack­son’s avail­abil­ity as a wit­ness for Cosby could be cru­cial to a de­fense plan to at­tack Con­stand’s cred­i­bil­ity and get jurors to be­lieve she set Cosby up.

Cosby lawyer Tom Me­sereau, who has called Con­stand a “con artist” who framed Cosby and then col­lected a $3.4 mil­lion set­tle­ment, asked her about Jack­son dur­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion on Mon­day. She again de­nied know­ing her.

The de­fense lawyer then asked, “Did you ever fab­ri­cate a scheme to falsely ac­cuse him for money?”

“No, sir,” Con­stand replied.

Con­stand, 45, left the wit­ness stand Mon­day af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing for seven hours over two days.

She told jurors last week that Cosby knocked her out with pills and then sex­u­ally as­saulted her. Cosby, 80, says Con­stand con­sented to a sex­ual en­counter.

If con­victed, Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of three charges of ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault.

On Mon­day, the de­fense tried to cast Con­stand as an op­por­tunist who baited Cosby by feign­ing ro­man­tic in­ter­est in him. The de­fense said she spent late nights at the co­me­dian’s home, drove four hours to see him at a casino and called him twice on Valen­tine’s Day, about a month af­ter the al­leged as­sault.

Con­stand has tes­ti­fied that she saw the for­mer TV star as a men­tor and had pre­vi­ously re­jected his ad­vances. And she said her phone calls to Cosby were about bas­ket­ball and had noth­ing to do with ro­mance.

Phone records show Con­stand, the for­mer di­rec­tor of women’s bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions at Tem­ple Univer­sity, made brief calls to Cosby around the time of a Tem­ple home game on Feb. 14, 2004, the month af­ter the al­leged as­sault.

“You think you called Mr. Cosby to talk about bas­ket­ball?” Me­sereau asked her.

Con­stand tes­ti­fied that she felt a duty to an­swer Cosby’s in­quiries be­cause he was a pow­er­ful alum­nus and trustee.

Pick­ing up where he left off Fri­day, Me­sereau ques­tioned

Con­stand about in­con­sis­ten­cies in her po­lice state­ments and prior tes­ti­mony.

Me­sereau said Con­stand told po­lice in 2005 that she called Cosby from her univer­sity-is­sued cell­phone just be­fore she ar­rived at his house on the night of the al­leged as­sault to en­sure the gate would be open. But Con­stand’s phone records show she did not make any calls to Cosby’s man­sion that month.

Con­stand ex­plained that she may have been mis­taken, that there were times Cosby told her in ad­vance that the gate would be open and that she of­ten reached him at an­other num­ber.

Pros­e­cu­tors have called to the stand five other women who said Cosby drugged and as­saulted them, too. The de­fense has called the other ac­cusers ir­rel­e­vant to the case.

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

DO­MINICK REUTER — POOL PHOTO VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An­drea Con­stand ar­rives to re­sume her tes­ti­mony dur­ing Bill Cosby’s sex­ual as­sault re­trial Mon­day at the Mont­gomery County Court­house in Norristown.

DO­MINICK REUTER — POOL PHOTO VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tom Me­sereau, lawyer for ac­tor and co­me­dian Bill Cosby, ar­rives Mon­day at the Mont­gomery County Court­house.

DO­MINICK REUTER — POOL PHOTO VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Kath­leen Bliss, lawyer for ac­tor and co­me­dian Bill Cosby, ar­rives for his sex­ual as­sault re­trial Mon­day at the Mont­gomery County Court­house in Norristown.

DO­MINICK REUTER — POOL PHOTO VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Boxes of doc­u­ments are wheeled into the court­room be­fore ac­tor and co­me­dian Bill Cosby ar­rives for his sex­ual as­sault re­trial Mon­day at the Mont­gomery County Court­house in Norristown.

DO­MINICK REUTER — POOL PHOTO VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ac­tor and co­me­dian Bill Cosby ar­rives for his sex­ual as­sault re­trial Mon­day at the Mont­gomery County Court­house at the Mont­gomery County Court­house in Norristown.

DO­MINICK REUTER — POOL PHOTO VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pros­e­cu­tor Kevin Steele ar­rives for Bill Cosby’s sex­ual as­sault re­trial Mon­day at the Mont­gomery County Court­house in Norristown.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.