Cosby's defense plans to use a civil settlement to undermine the key witness
Prosecution wants 19 women to testify against the comedian
Bill Cosby’s defense team plans to use a civil settlement between the comedian and the woman accusing him of assault to prove “just how greedy this person was,” defense attorney Tom Mesereau said in court on Tuesday.
The comment came as part of a pretrial hearing for Cosby’s upcoming trial in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia. Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
Cosby’s previous trial on those charges ended in a mistrial in June when jurors could not come to a unanimous verdict on any of the counts.
Cosby and Constand previously reached a civil settlement in 2006, and the details of that settlement have remained confidential. Cosby’s defense team in his trial last year did not use the civil settlement, but Mesereau said Tuesday that the defense plans to use details of the negotiations and how much money Constand received.
Mesereau also said he wants to call to the stand a woman named Margo Jackson, who was not a witness in the first trial. According to Mesereau, Jackson claims that Constand admitted that she could fabricate she was drugged and raped by a celebrity and get a lot of money.
Taken together, the comments suggest that Cosby’s defense will more aggressively target Constand and her motivations during the upcoming trial.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said 3,500 jury notices have already gone out, and that the retrial will begin March 29 with jury selection and could last about a month.
Decision next week on other accusers
Also in court, prosecutors argued that 19 of Cosby’s alleged victims should be allowed to testify to show he had a pattern of sexual misconduct.
But defense attorneys said that allowing more accusers to testify against the comedian would unfairly bias the jury and create a due process concern.
“This case is about what happened between Mr. Cosby and Ms. Constand on one night,” defense lawyer Becky James argued in court. “It’s not about what happened 50 years ago. It’s not about what happened with other people.”
O’Neill said he will issue a decision on that sometime next week.
Dozens of women have publicly accused Cosby of misconduct, but the criminal charges in this case solely deal with Constand’s allegations. Cosby has denied any wrongdoing, and the vast majority of those other instances occurred outside the statute of limitations.
James, Cosby’s attorney, argued that the alleged assaults date too far back in time – as much as 53 years ago, in one case.
“These are just ancient accusations,” she said.
She also countered they are not similar to the Constand case and would be unfairly prejudicial and distracting for the jury.
Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe on Monday “spent two hours telling you about 19 sexual assaults that did not happen,” James said. “The problem is none of that was proven.”
At the earlier trial, prosecutors presented almost no physical evidence, turning it into a quintessential “he said, she said” case. Prosecutors argue that adding more voices against the 80-year-old Cosby will help establish that he engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct.
One other woman, Kelly Johnson, was allowed to testify last year and said that Cosby had assaulted her in the mid-1990s. Prosecutors tried to introduce similar evidence from 12 other women, but the judge denied their request.
CNN’s Jean Casarez contributed to this report.