Sexual harassment and assault

Trouble for Bill Cosby as jury is allowed to hear him admit he gave sedatives to women before sex

The judge’s ruling hands the prosecution a key victory in its effort to portray the comedian as a serial predator

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 12:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 1:57am

The jury at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial can hear the comedian’s decade-old testimony about giving quaaludes to women before sex, a judge ruled Tuesday, handing the prosecution a key victory in its effort to portray him as a serial predator.

Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that prosecutors could have the Cosby Show star’s deposition testimony read into the record.

Cosby, 80, is on trial on charges that he drugged and molested former Temple University basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. 

Testifying under oath in 2005 as part of Constand’s civil suit against him, Cosby said he had obtained several prescriptions for quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s, ostensibly for a sore back.

The long-married comedian said he never took the drug, instead giving it to women he wanted to have sex with “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink’”.

“Quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with, and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case,” Cosby testified.

The former television star ultimately settled Constand’s lawsuit for nearly US$3.4 million.

Andrea Constand testifies ‘for justice’ against Cosby in sex assault trial

The unsealing of the deposition, at the request of the Associated Press, led prosecutors to reopen Cosby’s criminal case in 2015. The testimony was also included at his first trial, which ended with a hung jury last year.

Cosby’s lawyers argued that the testimony is irrelevant to his retrial because there is no evidence he gave Constand the drug.

In the deposition, Cosby said he gave Constand three half-tablets of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl. 

Prosecutors have suggested he gave her something stronger – perhaps quaaludes, a popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the US in 1982.

Cosby contends that his sexual encounter with Constand was consensual.

Prosecutors are building to the conclusion of their case against Cosby with investigators and a pharmaceutical expert expected to take the stand beginning Tuesday.

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On Monday, Constand rejected defence allegations that she had concocted her story to score a big payday, and her mother testified that Cosby apologised in a phone call and called himself a “sick man”.

Andrea and Gianna Constand’s testimony followed that of five additional accusers who told jurors that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them two decades earlier.

As Cosby arrived at the courthouse Tuesday, his spokeswoman Ebonee Benson told reporters that the Constands’ testimony “seemed to be more colorful and more embellished” than at the first trial.