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Prosecutors want Cosby jury to hear testimony on quaaludes

Bill Cosby
The Associated Press

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Prosecutors asked a judge Friday to let jurors at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial hear lurid deposition testimony from the comedian about giving quaaludes to a string of women before sex.

District Attorney Kevin Steele asked a judge during a pretrial hearing in suburban Philadelphia to let them read the testimony into the record at Cosby’s April 9 sex assault retrial, just as it was at the first one that ended in a hung jury last year.

Steele said the testimony, along with the testimony of up to five additional accusers, bolsters their plan to portray Cosby as a serial predator. Those women weren’t allowed to testify at the first trial.

Cosby’s lawyers, meanwhile, are counting on Judge Steven O’Neill to make rulings critical to their plan to portray the accuser as a greedy liar who framed the comedian to get rich.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday as the 80-year-old Cosby faces charges he drugged and molested former Temple University athletics administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

O’Neill could rule as early as Friday on whether the defense can call a witness who claims Constand spoke about falsely accusing a celebrity before going to police with allegations Cosby drugged and molested her.

The judge also will decide how much jurors will hear about Cosby’s financial settlement with Constand. They say the amount will show “just how greedy” she was.

Prosecutors said the theory that Constand wanted to set Cosby up is undermined by his testimony in a 2005 deposition that she only visited his home when invited and that he gave her pills without her asking.

Cosby admitted in the testimony he gave quaaludes to a 19-year-old before having sex in the 1970s.

Cosby’s lawyers argued that the lawsuit and payment were the direct result of her scheming against him. Prosecutors said Cosby’s negotiators wanted to bar Constand from ever cooperating with law enforcement.

O’Neill presided over Cosby’s first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year.

O’Neill remained on the case after rejecting the defense’s assertions on Thursday that he could be seen as biased because his wife is a social worker and advocate for assault victims.

In arguing for the judge to step aside, Cosby’s lawyers pointed to a $100 donation made in his wife’s name to an organization that gave money to a group planning a protest outside of the retrial.

O’Neill said the contribution was made 13 months ago by the department where his wife works at the University of Pennsylvania and that Cosby’s lawyers held an antiquated view of marriage where spouses must agree on everything.

“How are my wife’s independent views of an independent woman connected to me?” O’Neill said. “She’s an independent woman and has the right to be involved in anything that she believes in.”

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday and jurors will once again be sequestered at a hotel. Opening statements and testimony are not expected to get underway until April 9 at the earliest.

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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Follow Mike Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak

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For more on the Cosby trial, go to https://apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial

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