NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) - As the retrial of comedian Bill Cosby on sexual assault claims heads into closing arguments Tuesday, attorneys will fight for a more definitive verdict than last year’s hung jury.
Featuring testimony from 25 witnesses, the 12-day trial ran for more than twice the length of the first proceeding. Cosby, 80, again did not take the stand at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, and his defense rested Monday after producing travel records that undercut the prosecution’s timeline.
Key to making her claims viable under the statute of limitations, Andrea Constand has claimed that Cosby drugged and molested her at his home in Cheltenham one night in January 2004.
But a former secretary for Cosby’s agent, Roslyn Yarbrough, testified Monday that Cosby spent most of his time at his Massachusetts estate and New York City townhouse, and was “very rarely” at the suburban Philadelphia mansion.
Yarbbrough’s testimony complements flight logs from Cosby’s private jet that suggest he never visited his suburban Philadelphia mansion in January 2004.
A personal assistant for Cosby testified Friday the flights coincided with comedy performances and other events on Cosby's schedule, but District Attorney Kevin Steele noted on cross-examination that the records do not reflect other modes of transportation. Steele also noted gaps in the schedule when the comedian wasn’t aboard his private jet or performing around the country.
Cosby’s assistant, Debbie Meister, was one of 10 witnesses called by the defense. Their star witness, though, was Marguerite “Margo” Jackson, who for the last 31 years has been an academic counselor for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where Cosby was a trustee and Constand was director of operations for the same team.
Constand moved home to Canada soon after her allegedly nonconsensual encounter with Cosby, but Jackson testified that Constand apprised her in February 2004 of a supposed plot to frame a celebrity.
In addition to denying Jackson’s story, Constand claimed that she didn't "recall ever having a conversation with" her. The defense could not track down a friend of Constand’s from this era, Sheri Williams, and Judge Steven O’Neill refused to let the defense read a deposition she gave in Constand’s civil suit against Cosby.
Like Jackson’s testimony, the details about this $3.4 million settlement were also new to Cosby’s retrial. Cosby’s defense has used it to cast Constand as a con artist who preyed on the elderly Cosby to extract a big payday.
Thirty-five years Cosby’s junior, Constand testified that she saw Cosby as a mentor and was not threatened by the occasional romantic passes he made at her.
“I thought it was a little bit absurd, given that Mr. Cosby was just a little bit younger than my grandfather,” Constand testified. “He was a married man, and I absolutely showed no interest in him. But I wasn’t threatened, and I didn’t judge him.”
In addition to Constand, the prosecution called five other women who claim that Cosby drugged and assaulted them decades earlier. Cosby has not been charged in connection to any of these claims, but their rise to the surface in 2014 served to shatter the wholesome image he crafted as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on his former sitcom.
Dealing another blow to that image, Judge O’Neill permitted prosecutors to let the jury hear the candid deposition Cosby gave as part of the Constand’s civil suit in 2005.
Though he described his sexual encounter with Constand as consensual, and said the pills he gave her were only Benadryl, Cosby also admitted that it was his custom in the 1970s to keep quaaludes on hand so he could give them to women before having sex with them, “just in case.”
“The same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink,’” he said.
Such testimony featured in the first trial as well, but another key difference this year was the testimony of the five other accusers, a group that included television personality Janice Dickinson, whose testimony was corroborated on the stand by her book publisher.
At the first trial, Judge O’Neill permitted the prosecution to call only one other Cosby accuser.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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