NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A defense lawyer for Bill Cosby told jurors in his sexual assault retrial Tuesday that they should reject the “flimsy, silly, ridiculous” case against the entertainer and find him not guilty of all charges.
Defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau directly addressed the #MeToo movement — the cultural awareness that has resulted from the many accusations of sexual assault leveled against rich and powerful men over the last year — and asked the jury to “stand up against the rumor, gossip and shallowness” of that heated atmosphere.
“That’s what our country is filled with at this moment,” Mesereau said in a 70-minute summation delivered in a hushed courtroom here in suburban Philadelphia.
Mesereau urged jurors to reject the testimony of Andrea Constand, who alleges that she was drugged and molested by Cosby at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.
“You’re dealing with a pathological liar, member of the jury,” he said.
The jury of seven men and five women — plus six alternates — seemed to be listening intently to the pair of defense summations that dominated the morning of the 12th day of the trial. The prosecution is scheduled to deliver its closing argument Tuesday afternoon.
Cosby, now 80, is the only major celebrity to face a jury in the atmosphere of the movement. He is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, has pleaded not guilty and contends the sexual encounter with Constand was consensual. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Cosby’s first trial ended in June when a different jury deadlocked on all charges after more than 50 hours of deliberations. He is now facing a jury that is slightly younger over all and has been sequestered at a hotel since testimony began April 9 here in Montgomery County, just outside of Philadelphia.
Constand is one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of drugging and then assaulting them — but she is the only one whose allegation became the focus of a criminal case.
Mesereau focused with laser-like intensity on records of phone calls between Cosby and Constand in January 2004 — the month she says he assaulted her — and said the incident could not have happened in January.
He told jurors that Constand testified that, on the night in question, she drove to his Elkins Park home and called him from her car to tell him she had arrived. But Mesereau went through the records of the phone calls and said that there were no phone calls that entire month from Constand’s cell phone to Cosby’s home outside of Philadelphia.
While a video display on a courtroom screen showed the words, “Bill Cosby Gets Conned,” Mesereau told jurors that Constand, who received a settlement of nearly $3.4 million after filing a lawsuit against Cosby, was out for his money.
“Bill Cosby got conned big time,” said Mesereau, who added that the entertainer is now an 80-year-old man “on trial for his life.”
Defense lawyer Kathleen Bliss also urged the jury to find the once-beloved comedian not guilty.
“Acquit Mr. Cosby,” Bliss said.
Bliss told jurors they should rely heavily on the testimony of key defense witness Marguerite Jackson, who said that Constand once confided that she could set up a high-profile person in order to get money to go back to school and start a business.
Jackson told the jury that Constand, who was operations manager of the women’s basketball team at Temple University, made the comment when they were rooming together during a team road trip to Rhode Island in February 2004.
Jackson, who at the time was an academic counselor for the basketball team, told the jury that they were watching TV when a news report came on about some well-known figure being accused of sexual assault in a civil case. Constand, she said, told her that “she had something similar happen to her” but had not reported the incident because she couldn’t prove it.
Jackson said she asked Constand repeatedly whether something like that had actually happened, and that Constand finally replied, “no, it didn’t” but that she “could say it did” in order to get money.
In her testimony, Constand told the jury that she left Temple shortly after Cosby assaulted her and returned home to Canada, where she went to school for massage therapy. She eventually filed a lawsuit against Cosby and received a settlement of nearly $3.4 million.
Constand testified that she had gotten to know Cosby when she worked at Temple, where Cosby was a famous alum and major booster.
She said when she went to his home in Montgomery County in early 2004, he offered her three pills to help her relax. She said she believed they were some kind of an herbal remedy so she took them because she trusted him, and soon became incapacitated. Then, she said, she felt his fingers inside of her.
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