Comedian Bill Cosby paid Andrea Constand USD 3.38 million to settle the sexual assault lawsuit she brought against him in 2005, said prosecutors at the opening of his criminal retrial. Since Cosby's closely watched retrial kicked off at the Montgomery County Courthouse near Philadelphia on Monday, lawyers on both sides of the aisle have given us a better idea of what we can likely expect in the next few weeks.
The 80-year-old entertainer, once known as the wise and witty father in the 1980s television hit "The Cosby Show", is facing his second trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004.
Under no such constraints this time, the defense let loose on Constand.
"She's now a multimillionaire because she pulled it off", defense attorney Thomas Mesereau said of Andrea Constand, 44, who won a $3.4 million settlement from Cosby in a civil lawsuit in 2006.
Cosby said he gave the Canadian an over-the-counter antihistamine to relieve stress.
Also on the mind of the prosecution: #MeToo. Prosecutor declined to charge Cosby at the time. He faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He told jurors that Constand was in deep financial trouble and attached all of her hopes to what she could milk from her relationship with Cosby. It's a word that Steele used repeatedly to drive home the seriousness of the allegations against Cosby.
Beyond his mantra that Constand - who laid out the details of Cosby's alleged abuse on the stand last summer - was in it for the money, Mesereau flew in the face of the courageous sexual assault survivors who've added their voices to #MeToo and implied that the "current climate in America" would make it impossible for his client to receive a fair trial.
Also, the prosecution called a psychiatrist who testified that Constand's behavior after her alleged 2004 molestation was not uncommon for a sexual-assault victim.
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"Ultimately, the verdict in this case will come down to the facts presented and the strength in which Constand delivers her message", said Slotnick. Cosby's defense attorneys plan to try to undermine her testimony by arguing how "greedy" she was in a 2006 civil settlement with Cosby. A year ago, Cosby's lawyers had no real explanation for why.
Heidi Thomas, then a 24-year-old struggling actress, described an encounter that seemed to start out innocently enough: with a sip of wine at a private ranch in Reno, Nev., for what was supposed to be acting lessons with the married star. The prosecutors, defense attorney Mesereau said in his opening statement, "are hoping that somehow in the current climate in America maybe you'll be prejudiced". "Money, money, and lots more money". The woman jumped over a crowd barrier and yelled "Women's lives matter" and "Bill Cosby is a rapist" before being wrestled to the ground by deputies. He added that Ms Constand was "a con artist".
The award-winning Cosby, who says he is now legally blind, sat impassive, resting a finger against his nose and staring straight ahead as he appeared to follow the courtroom action intently.
Even after the alleged assault, she met him alone, introduced him to her parents and called him 75 times, including late at night and twice on Valentine's Day, he said. "I think you're in for a surprise when you find out who this person is". This time, the prosecution will be allowed to seek testimony from up to five women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct in prior incidents.
Constand stiffed roommates on utility bills, racked up big credit card bills and operated a Ponzi scheme while running women's basketball operations at Temple, where Cosby was an alumnus and trustee, Mesereau said. Mesereau challenged the jury to ignore overzealous media reports and rumors and to stick to the evidence, of which there is actually very little, he said.
"The only principle was money", Mesereau chanted, implying that Constand had no moral reason for coming forward about the assault. That could spell bad news for the DA.
Constand spoke with Cosby and saw him after the alleged assault at his suburban Philadelphia home, but waited until 2005 before going to police with her allegations. "This undoubtedly will pose an appellate issue if Cosby is convicted".
Ultimately, Mesereau is taking a big leap in trying to convince the jury that Cosby is really the victim in this trial and that Constand was the aggressor, especially if the cultural wind is blowing in the opposite direction.