Bill Cosby sexual assault trial: Defence for star produces single witness before resting

The comedian will not testify in his sexual assault trial

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The Independent US

The defence presented by Bill Cosby’s legal team in the comedian’s long-awaited sexual assault trial lasted all of six minutes, and produced a single witness.

Its closing statements, however, lasted two hours.

In a sprawling statement to a Pennsylvania courtroom, lawyer Brian McMonagle presented the case for the innocence of Cosby by painting his client as honest, his accuser as inconsistent, and the media as complicit.

“This is not a civil case about money, money, money,” Mr McMonagle told the jury. “We’re talking about all the man’s tomorrows.”

Cosby, who has been charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, could spend the rest of his life in jail if found guilty.

The charges stem from an incident in 2004, in which both Cosby and his accuser agree they engaged in sexual contact. Cosby’s defence has claimed the encounter was consensual. His accuser, Andrea Constand, says it was assault.

Ms Constand testified last week that she had attended a private dinner at Cosby’s home, where he gave her pills that made her slur her speech, see double, and feel “frozen”. She said he then helped her to his couch and molested her.

In his closing remarks, Mr McMonagle focused primarily on poking holes in Ms Constand's story. He pointed out inconsistencies in her statements to police over the years, and highlighted the dozens of phone calls she made to the comedian in the months after the alleged assault.

“This isn’t talking to a trustee,” Mr McMonagle said, referring to Cosby’s role as trustee at the university where Ms Constand was employed. “This is talking to a lover.”

It was the last of several attempts by the defence to paint Cosby and Ms Constand’s relationship as romantic, and their encounters as consensual. Lawyers had previously detailed instances in which Ms Constand visited the entertainer’s hotel room alone, and attended “dimly lit” dinners at his home.

Ms Constand claims she saw the entertainer as a “mentor” and “somewhat of an older figure”.

At one point, in a rare moment of self-awareness for the trial, Mr McMonagle addressed the larger context of the allegations: more than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault in recent years, setting off a firestorm of media coverage and essentially destroying the comedian’s family-friendly image.

Some of the accusers sat in on the closing arguments today.

“You know why we’re here; let’s be real. Right?” Mr McMongale said at one point, gesturing to the area where the accusers, the press, and members of the public sat.

“We’re not here because of Andrea Constand,” he told the jury. “That was over in 2005. We’re here because of this nonsense. We’re here because of them.”

Cosby did not testify at his trial. Instead, the defence called a single witness, Detective Richard Schaffer, who lead the 2005 investigation into Ms Constand’s allegations.

Lawyers questioned Mr Schaffer for approximately six minutes, then rested their defence.

Judge Steven O’Neill denied the defence’s request to bring forward a second witness, a woman who had worked with Ms Constand at Cosby’s alma mater.

Cosby’s long-expected decision not to testify means his only statements in the trial come from a previously sealed deposition. The deposition was taken for a lawsuit filed by Ms Constand in 2005, after detectives unexpectedly closed her sexual assault case.

The prosecution presented excerpts from the deposition last week, including segments in which Cosby admitted to engaging with Ms Constand in “the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection”.

“She did not stop me. And I wanted to go,” Cosby told detectives at the time.

The jury will now move to deliberations.