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Changing tactics: Cosby defense aggressively attacks accuser

April 10, 2018

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby returns from lunch during his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — As Bill Cosby stands trial a second time over allegations he sexually molested a woman in 2004, his new, high-powered Hollywood lawyer took a far more aggressive tone toward the accuser in his opening statement Tuesday.

Armed with a couple key rulings that could help the defense, Tom Mesereau told jurors that Andrea Constand is a “con artist” who framed his client because she was after “money, money and lots more money.” Mesereau made the point repeatedly as he sought to cast Constand as the villain, and Cosby her victim.

Cosby’s lawyer for his first trial , by contrast, tried to undermine Constand’s credibility by focusing on what he said were her shifting accounts to police.

In his opening statement last June, Brian McMonagle said Constand hadn’t told the truth — but only hinted at her alleged motivation.

Constand has repeatedly insisted that Cosby incapacitated her with drugs and then assaulted her. She’s one of about 60 women who have come forward with allegations against Cosby.

Prosecutor Kevin Steele said in his opening statement Monday that Constand received a nearly $3.4 million settlement from Cosby in a 2006 civil settlement.

Here’s a look at some of the differences between the two defense lawyers in their respective opening statements.

ON ACCUSER ANDREA CONSTAND

Brian McMonagle: A 2005 investigation revealed Constand was “untruthful time and time and time again in her statements to law enforcement.” She and Cosby had a romantic relationship. Constand initially told police she and Cosby did not speak after their 2004 encounter, but phone records show the two talked dozens of times.

Tom Mesereau: “She had a history of financial problems until she hit the jackpot with Bill Cosby.” She told a Temple University colleague that she could make up allegations against a celebrity and file a civil suit. “Why do you keep going back and back and back and back? Because there’s something that you want. I wonder what It is. She’s now a multi-millionaire because she pulled it off.”

ON BILL COSBY

Brian McMonagle: Jurors might see a “brilliant comedian” or a “flawed husband whose infidelity has made him vulnerable” to the charges. “What I’ll hope you see is ... just a citizen presumed innocent.” The jury’s decision is “about all of a man’s tomorrows.”

Tom Mesereau: “It’s brutal for him. He’s 80 years old and legally blind.” Cosby confided in Constand “that he had never recovered from his son’s murder in 1997. ... He was lonely and she kept coming to see him.”

ON THE PROSECUTION’S CASE

Brian McMonagle: “In 2005, they put an end to this nonsense” when prosecutors at the time concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Cosby. Now prosecutors are glossing over myriad inconsistencies in Constand’s story to pursue a criminal case.

Tom Mesereau: Jurors should ignore the five additional accusers whom prosecutors plan to have testify because their claims are irrelevant to the case. “It’s called prosecution by distraction. When you don’t have a case, you’ve got to fill the time with something else.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

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Rubinkam reported from northeast Pennsylvania.

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