Cosby jury dives into star defense witness testimony

Bill Cosby risks spending the rest of his life behind bars if convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand 14 years ago

Norristown (United States) (AFP) – The Pennsylvania jury in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial embarked on a second day of deliberations Thursday after listening back to the entire testimony of the star defense witness.

The frail 80-year-old risks spending the rest of his life behind bars if convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, then a Temple University employee, 14 years ago.

The 14th day of America’s first celebrity sexual assault trial in the #MeToo era got underway with the jury being read the testimony of Temple University academic adviser Marguerite Jackson.

Jackson claims that Constand told her while rooming together on a university basketball trip in February 2004 — a month after the alleged assault — that she could set up a celebrity for cash.

Jackson said Constand told her she had not reported the incident because it was a high-profile figure and “because she couldn’t prove it,” and when pressed denied she had been assaulted.

“I could say it did,” Jackson told the court, quoting Constand, who at the time was director of operations for women’s basketball at Temple. “I could get that money.”

Under cross-examination, prosecutors sought to portray Jackson as overly coached by the defense. Jackson said she and Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss “kind of created” her statement “together.”

Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury in June with the panel hopelessly deadlocked after six days of testimony and 52 hours of deliberations in Norristown, a suburb of Philadelphia.

The defense mounted an aggressive case, portraying their wealthy client as a misguided married man hoodwinked into a $3.38 million civil settlement by a con artist and pathological liar.

The prosecution painted Cosby as the real “con,” who exploited his fame as “America’s Dad” to betray women’s trust by drugging and sexually assaulting them against their will.

On Wednesday, the sequestered jury of seven men and five women worked more than 10 hours. They were read back parts of Cosby’s deposition, given in 2006 to reach the settlement with Constand.

They heard again the pioneering African American entertainer’s version of his encounter with Constand, which he said was consensual, and how he gave her an over-the-counter antihistamine Benadryl.

They also heard Cosby admitting he had obtained seven prescriptions of Quaaludes, a now banned 1970s party drug, from a Los Angeles doctor for back pain with a view to having sex with other women.

The case has forever tarnished the legacy of the actor once adored by millions for his role as lovable father and obstetrician Cliff Huxtable on the 1984-92 hit television series “The Cosby Show.”