At Cosby Assault Trial, Quaaludes In, Spanish Fly Out

Bill Cosby arrives to court in Norristown, Pennsylvania, for an April 3 pretrial hearing on sexual assault charges. (Pool photo via CLEM MURRAY, The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) – Though his ode to the date-rape drug Spanish Fly is a nonstarter, Bill Cosby’s admission to giving quaaludes to his sexual partners is fair game at his upcoming assault trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Cosby made the infamous quaalude remarks while being deposed in 2005 for a civil case involving Andrea Constand, the only one of Cosby’s dozens of accusers dating back to the 1970s whose criminal assault claims are not barred by the statute of limitations.

Because 79-year-old Cosby admits only to giving Constand a Benadryl, which he says she ingested willingly, the defense had tried to get the quaalude evidence excluded when he goes on trial in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

Judge Steven O’Neill issued a brief order Friday that says prosecutors can introduce Cosby’s quaalude admissions but not any references to the date-rape drug Spanish Fly.

In his 2004 nonfiction book “Childhood,” Cosby described Spanish Fly as “an aphrodisiac so potent that it could have made Lena Horne surrender to Fat Albert.”

Though Cosby described needing the Spanish fly potion because girls were “never in the mood” for him and his friends, the defense maintains Cosby was merely sharing a fanciful story of adolescence.

When Cosby touched on the topic while promoting his book on CNN, he told Larry King that “all boys from age 11 on up to death” will be searching for Spanish Fly.

O’Neill’s ruling follows a pretrial hearing earlier this month. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele’s office declined to comment on Friday’s developments, which includes a separate order from O’Neill barring evidence regarding Constand’s civil suit against Cosby.

Both the suit and the settlement Constand reached with Cosby are off limits at the upcoming trial, even though Cosby made the quaalude admission while being deposed for this same case.

In his sworn testimony, Cosby said he got seven prescriptions for quaaludes in the 1970s, intending to give them to women he was pursuing for sex. The powerful sedatives were banned in 1983.

Cosby’s trial is slated to kick off in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on June 5, featuring a sequestered jury chosen from Allegheny County. Pittsburgh is the county seat in Allegheny, which is about 300 miles from Norristown.

Cosby’s accuser, Andrea Constand, used to work at Temple University, where Cosby was a trustee. She claims that Cosby, who turns 80 in July, drugged and raped her at his Cheltenham home in 2004.

Prosecutors wanted 13 of Cosby’s other accusers to testify at the Constand trial, but Judge O’Neill agreed to let a only a woman identified as Accuser Number Six tell her story.

Cosby is represented by Brian McMonagle. The Philadelphia firm McMonagle, Perri, McHugh, & Mishak has not returned a phone call seeking comment. 

McMonagle’s co-counsel, Angela Agrusa of Liner Law, declined to comment, but an evidence professor at Loyola University Law School called O’Neill’s orders “completely correct.”

While Cosby’s “teenage years and jokes about ‘Spanish Fly’” have minimal relevance to the charges against him, said Loyola professor Stanley Goldman, the quaalude comment is from 2005 — “not that long ago,” Goldman added.

“They are his words, and his words can be used against him as long as they’re not otherwise objectionable,” Goldman said. 

Of the ruling, Goldman added that “neither side should be legally upset by this.”

Defense attorney Agrusa is herself an alumna of Loyola, and Goldman said he’s been following the lead-up to Cosby’s trial. “My favorite cases are when alumni are involved,” said Goldman, who noted he has taught evidence more than 50 times in his career.

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