Defense cross of Cosby accuser reflects change in strategy
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby’s lawyers have changed the way they talk about his chief accuser and her relationship with him.
At Cosby’s first sexual-assault trial, the defense argued that Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball administrator, and the 80-year-old married comedian were lovers having an affair. A mistrial was declared when jurors couldn’t reach a verdict after six days of deliberations.
At the retrial, Cosby’s new lawyer, Tom Mesereau, has called Constand a “con artist” who baited Cosby by feigning romantic interest in him and wound up with a $3.4 million civil settlement after she leveled a false claim of sexual molestation.
Mesereau’s cross-examination of Constand, which ended Monday, reflected this change in strategy.
Like last time, though, the defense team hit a brick wall when it asked Constand about a key figure in the case, Marguerite Jackson, who says Constand spoke about fabricating sexual-assault allegations against a celebrity to file suit. After Constand denied knowing Jackson at the first trial, a judge barred her from testifying for the defense. The judge has tentatively ruled that Jackson can take the stand at the retrial, but that could change because Constand, for a second time, has denied knowing her.
Here’s a glimpse at each defense team’s cross-examination of Constand.
ON CONSTAND’S DINNER WITH COSBY
First trial: Cosby lawyer Angela Agrusa suggested Constand once enjoyed a romantic dinner at Cosby’s home.
“And the room was dark and there was a nice mood in the room, correct?” Agrusa asked.
“I don’t know what that means,” Constand replied.
“The lights were dimmed, and the fire was going, right?” the lawyer continued.
“I don’t really remember how dim the lights were, but I did have to eat my dinner,” Constand said.
Second trial: Mesereau didn’t ask about the dinner.
ON THE ‘PONZI SCHEME’
First trial: The defense didn’t ask Constand about emails she had sent that promised big returns for a risk-free $65 investment — what the defense at the second trial has called a “Ponzi scheme.”
Second trial: Mesereau asked Constand about the emails, seeking to bolster his claim that she’s a con artist. During cross-examination, Constand struggled to remember why she’d sent them but said she was only trying to help out a friend.
ON MARGUERITE JACKSON
First trial: Agrusa asked Constand, “When you traveled to the away games while you were director of basketball operations, did you know or work with a woman named Margo Jackson?”
Constand replied, “Her name sounds familiar, but I don’t really remember her. ... I don’t know her.”
Second trial: Constand testified she doesn’t “recall ever having a conversation with” Jackson.
ON CONSTAND’S CIVIL SETTLEMENT
First trial: Agrusa ran through a list of personal-injury lawyers whom Constand called after the alleged assault and referred to her police statement in which she said she had contacted an attorney who “specializes in sexual assault lawsuits.” Constand said a lawsuit “was not my intention.” Due to a ruling from the judge, Agrusa was barred from questioning Constand about her $3.4 million civil settlement with Cosby.
Second trial: This time, the defense was allowed to ask her about the 2006 settlement.
Mesereau suggested Constand violated a confidentiality provision of the settlement by cooperating with prosecutors when they reopened the criminal investigation in 2015. He asked if she offered to give the money back and wondered, “Didn’t you think when Mr. Cosby paid you this large sum of money he was hoping it would all go away?”
Constand agreed, saying she wanted it to go away, too.
“I was glad it was over,” she said.
Rubinkam contributed to this story from northeastern Pennsylvania.
This story has been corrected to show jurors at the first trial deliberated for six days, not five.