NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) – Focusing on the revelations that Bill Cosby paid Andrea Constand $3.4 million to settle civil rape claims, the comedian’s defense attorney pushed the narrative in his opening statement Tuesday that Constand is a con artist.
“Money, money and lots more money,” said celebrity attorney Tom Mesereau, who prior to the Cosby case had defended Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and Suge Knight.
Constand is openly gay, but Mesereau told jurors this morning that she had developed a relationship with the comedian not because she admired him but because she was “madly in love” with his fame and money.
Against the accuser’s claims that she was drugged and raped, 80-year-old Cosby has insisted he had a consensual sexual relationship with Constand, who turns 45 on Wednesday.
Though Mesereau portrayed Cosby as the exploited party, District Attorney Kevin Steele emphasized in his opening that they will hear from Constand on the stand about how Cosby admittedly plied her with pills before having sex with her.
“She’s unconscious. She’s out of it,” he said. “She will describe how her body felt during this circumstance. She’s jolted during this. She feels herself being violated … And she’ll tell you she remembers waking up on this sofa with her clothes disheveled at 4 o’clock in the morning. This is hours after this starts.”
A psychiatrist named Barbara Ziv took the stand Tuesday as the state’s first witness.
She testified that it’s common for victims of sexual assault to be reluctant about reporting their abuse to police immediately, and that many also maintain contact with perpetrators.
In Constand’s case, she waited until 2005 to report that Cosby assaulted her the year before. Constand met Cosby at Temple University where she was director of operations for the women’s basketball team and he was a trustee.
She filed her report with police in Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home after she had left her job at Temple and moved home to Canada, where she continued to speak to Cosby on the phone and even got tickets for her family to see him perform.
In between court proceedings, attorneys for Cosby have continued to file briefs with the Montgomery Court of Common Pleas concerning potential witnesses who could testify for the prosecution that Cosby drugged and raped them as well.
Though Constand remains the only one of dozens of women whose claims against Cosby are not too old to prosecute, the state says these women’s testimony is critical to showing that Cosby’s history of drugging and assaulting women dates back to the 1970s.
Gloria Allred, an attorney for Cosby accuser Chelan Lasha, balked Monday that the defense wants to feature evidence that Lashan pleaded guilty in 2008 to filing a false report to law enforcement in an unrelated matter.
Though Allred has said this plea has nothing to do with Cosby’s retrial, Medereau says Lashan’s memories are tainted at best.
Lasha claims she was 17 in 1986 when Cosby, then 48, gave her a pill he described as an antihistamine and then assaulted her after she was immobilized and unable to speak.
Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault in the Constand case. If proven, each count would carry up to 10 years in prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.