Sexual harassment and assault

Cosby opts not to testify as defense rests in his sexual assault retrial

Closing arguments in the entertainer’s criminal case are set for Tuesday in Pennsylvania

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 12:27am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2018, 3:27am

The comedian Bill Cosby opted not to testify in his sexual assault retrial as his lawyers rested their case Monday, setting the stage for closing arguments and jury deliberations.

“You now have all of the evidence,” Judge Steven O’Neill told jurors, sending them back to their hotel after an abbreviated day of testimony. “Try to relax, so that you’re on your game tomorrow.”

Closing arguments will be held Tuesday in the case that pits the “Cosby Show” star once known as America’s Dad against a woman who says he drugged her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004, then sexually assaulted her while she was unable to resist or say no.

Cosby, 80, didn’t take the stand at his first trial, either. That one ended last June in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked on three related counts of aggravated indecent assault. If convicted, Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each count.

Jurors in this trial heard testimony from 25 witnesses over the course of about two weeks.

Chief accuser Andrea Constand told her story to the jury, as did five other women who say Cosby drugged and assaulted them, too.

Jurors did hear from Cosby in the form of a deposition he gave in 2005 and 2006 as part of Constand’s civil suit against him. In it, Cosby acknowledged giving the sedative quaalude to women before sex in the 1970s.

Cosby has said he gave a cold and allergy medicine to Constand to help her relax before what he called a consensual sexual encounter.

The star defense witness was a former colleague of Constand who says Constand spoke of leveling false sexual assault accusations against a high-profile person for the purpose of filing a civil suit. Constand got a civil settlement of nearly $3.4 million from Cosby.

Andrea Constand testifies ‘for justice’ against Bill Cosby as his lawyers emphasise the US$3.3m payout she already received

As the trial wound down on Monday, prosecutors highlighted gaps in Cosby’s travel records.

Cosby’s lawyers introduced the records in an effort to show that he couldn’t have been at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in January 2004, the month Constand contends that he drugged and sexually molested her there.

But prosecutors pointed out several stretches of time that month when Cosby wasn’t aboard his private jet or performing around the country. And Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele noted in court Monday that the records reflect only jet travel, not other modes of transportation.

The date of Cosby’s encounter with Constand is important because of when he was charged. Prosecutors reopened the case in 2015, and he was charged late that year — just before the 12-year statute of limitations was set to expire.

The flight records and travel itineraries produced by Cosby’s lawyers do not show any flights in or out of the Philadelphia area in January 2004 — indicating he wasn’t around for the alleged assault, according to the defense. Cosby’s lawyers argue that any encounter with Constand at his suburban home must have happened earlier, thus falling outside the statute of limitations.

But the records also have large gaps — a total of 17 days that month in which Cosby wasn’t traveling, performing or taping television appearances.

Cross-examining a defense aviation expert, Steele zeroed in on March 16, 2004, the date Constand said she confronted Cosby after a dinner he hosted at a Chinese restaurant for Philadelphia high school students.

Cosby’s private jet records don’t show him taking any flights to the Philadelphia area around that time, either.

“You can’t tell us whether he got on a commercial flight,” Steele said. “You can’t tell us whether he got on a train. You can’t tell us whether he got in a car and drove to Philadelphia.”

Jurors also heard Monday from Roslyn Yarbrough, a former secretary for Cosby’s agent, who testified that Cosby spent most of his time at his Massachusetts estate and New York City townhouse and was “very rarely” at the home near Philadelphia.