comscore Cosby defense rests as sex assault trial nears end | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Cosby defense rests as sex assault trial nears end


    Bill Cosby arrives for the second day of his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pa. in 2017.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. >> Bill Cosby’s defense team rested its case today after presenting additional witnesses whose testimony was intended to suggest that Cosby could not have sexually assaulted Andrea Constand at his home near here in January 2004, as she has said.

The two final witnesses, a woman who worked for Cosby’s agent at what is now called the William Morris Endeavor, and a pilot with expertise about flight records, were introduced to bolster defense arguments that Cosby was traveling and away from his home near Philadelphia during the month in which Constand says she was molested.

The witnesses pored over itineraries and flight documents and testified to the accuracy of the records typically kept in such circumstances. The records indicated that on many dates during that month Cosby had traveled to performances in different states and then returned to his house in New York, not to the home outside Philadelphia where Constand says she was drugged and sexually assaulted.

But prosecutors said the records contained errors, were often vague about the destination and hardly comprehensive in detailing Cosby’s whereabouts for the entire month.

The Montgomery County district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, said Cosby could have taken another private plane, a commercial plane, a train or some other kind of transport to return to his home in Pennsylvania.

“They would be the records for simply one plane,” Steele said. “You can’t tell us whether or not he got in a car as he drove from New York to Philadelphia.”

Whether the encounter occurred in January 2004 is important because, beyond Constand’s credibility, there is the issue of Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations for filing charges. Cosby was charged for the drugging and assault of Constand at the end of December 2015, so if the encounter had happened earlier than January 2004, he could not be prosecuted under Pennsylvania law.

His lawyers have not denied that there was a sexual encounter between Cosby and Constand, a former Temple University employee who said she viewed him as a mentor. But they have characterized it as part of a romantic, consensual relationship that involved no criminal behavior.

Today, the defense produced a fax cover sheet showing, they said, that Cosby was at his Philadelphia home in the middle of December 2003. Perhaps this was the period when Constand had visited the house, the team suggested.

But the prosecution said the cover sheet carried no time stamp and questioned whether it had ever been sent.

The defense has portrayed Cosby as an unwitting victim of Constand, who, they say, was pursuing him for money. Jurors heard earlier in the trial that Constand won a $3.38 million payment from Cosby in the settlement of a civil case in 2006 that she filed after prosecutors declined to charge him. Law enforcement authorities revisited that decision late in 2015.

Cosby did not testify as the defense wrapped up its case Monday, the 11th day of the sexual assault retrial. Cosby’s first trial last summer ended with a hung jury.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas asked Cosby if he agreed with his lawyers’ decision not to present his testimony. “That is correct, your honor,” Cosby said, raising his hand to identify himself.

The jurors looked on attentively as O’Neill explained their role in the coming days.

“Try to relax so that you are on your game tomorrow,” he said “when you will listen to closing arguments and begin your deliberations.”

The prosecution has presented 14 witnesses, including five women who testified that they believe they too had been drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby. The defense has called 10 witnesses in an effort to portray Constand as a woman who pursued Cosby for money and turned a consensual affair into a lucrative payday.

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