NORRISTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA—Bill Cosby’s defense attorneys delivered their closing statements Tuesday morning, launching a blistering attack on the six women who testified Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them and the #MeToo movement.
“Yes we have to deal with sexual assault,” said defense attorney Kathleen Bliss, who split the two-hour closing with lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau. “It’s a worldwide problem. There’s no doubt about that. We have to deal with it. Just like we have to deal with sexual harassment. And pay disparity and social inequalities.
“But questioning an accuser is not shaming a victim,” she continued, her voice rising. “Mob rule is not due process. And just as we have had horrible, horrible crimes in our history we’ve also had horrible, horrible periods of time where emotion and hatred and fear have overwhelmed us. Witch hunts. Lynchings. McCarthyism.
“When you join a movement based primarily on emotion and anger, you don’t change a damn thing,” she said, referring to the #MeToo movement, where sexual assault and harassment allegations have toppled more than 100 men. “Which is why each case must be examined on its merits.”
Added Mesereau: “Throughout our history juries have been courageous. They have been dedicated. They have shown character and they don’t get pushed around by media or mobs…It’s a very, very serious moment where an 80-year-old man who’s legally blind and had a very successful career is looking at ruin. Absolute ruin.”
The $3 million settlement that Cosby’s alleged victim, Andrea Constand, got in 2006 was “one of the biggest cases of highway robbery of all time,” Mesereau said.
“He thought he was paying for peace,” he continued. “He didn’t get the peace he thought he was getting.”
Cosby, 80, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand, a former Temple University employee, in 2004. Cosby denies Constand’s allegations as well as similar ones from more than 60 women. Last June, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial in the case after a jury deadlocked. The retrial began Monday, April 2.
The defense and prosecution rested their case shortly before 2 p.m. Monday but left closing arguments for Tuesday so other issues could be worked out with the judge.
As she did last year, Camille, Cosby’s wife of 54 years, appeared in court in time to hear defense closing arguments. She walked into the courthouse with Cosby around 9 a.m. but he went into the courtroom escorted by spokesperson Andrew Wyatt. At 9:47 a.m., she strode into the courtroom with Wyatt, walked up to her husband at the defense table, who stood up, smiled and put his right arm around her neck as they touched foreheads for a few seconds. He whispered to her, they kissed and she went to sit down in the front row on the defense side with Wyatt and spokesperson Ebonee Benson to her right and Scott Ross, Mesereau’s private investigator, to her left.
Mrs. Cosby sat regally, seeming to be paying close attention.
The star witness for the defense was Temple employee Marguerite “Margo” Jackson, who testified Constand told her she was going to set up a “high profile” person to get money. Jackson said the conversation occurred in February 2004 while she and Constand were sharing a hotel room while traveling with the women’s basketball team.
Constand said she did not remember the conversation and she never shared a room while traveling. The defense did not present any records proving the two shared a room. The prosecution found expense reports Jackson submitted in February 2003 for traveling with the team but found none in 2004.
In their shared closing argument, Bliss and Mesereau did not hold back on disparaging the accusers who testified and their supporting witnesses. Model Janice Dickinson testified that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 1982 in Reno, Nevada but that she left the account out of her 2002 memoir because her publisher, Judith Regan, said the attorneys wouldn’t allow it in without corroboration.
Dickinson is a “failed starlet,” Bliss said. “She’s an aged-out model. She sold a lot of books in her time. Sex sells. It sounds as though she slept with every single man on the planet. Is Miss Dickinson really the moral beacon that women’s movements want?”
Regan confirmed she made Dickinson take the alleged rape out of her book when she testified on April 18 but Bliss dismissed her testimony.
“That’s nonsense,” Bliss said. “The attorneys wouldn’t allow it because they vetted it. They didn’t want to be sued for defamation. And did Judith Regan ever tell you she actually believed Janice Dickinson? No. And consider this: Janice Dickinson said this happened in 1982. That’s when ‘America’s Dad’ mounted her. Cosby’s show didn’t air until 1984. That’s not a little white lie.”
Bliss had equally harsh words for fellow accusers Chelan Lasha, Lise Lotte-Lublin, Heidi Thomas, and Janice Baker-Kinney.
Bliss said Thomas is “living the dream” going on speaking tours and appearing on TV shows, Lasha “has been convicted before of lying to the police,” Lotte-Lublin “wants to be part of something,” and Baker Kinney “heard about this case and joined the movement. Must have been #MeToo.”
All but Thomas are represented by either Gloria Allred or her daughter, Lisa Bloom, Bliss noted.
“What is this case about?” Bliss asked. “It’s about money. Press conferences. TV shows. Salacious coverage. Ratings. Sex sells.
“There’s no doubt there are horrific crimes committed against women and children and men but as I speak to you today, as I’m speaking now, there are women who are contained in hospitals and shelters and morgues. You think these people are going to give a dime to the silent ones who hide in fear and violence? No. There’s no money in it.”
Finally, she addressed the testimony of Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist and sexual assault expert who tried to explain why victims often wait to report the assaults to authorities and other victim behavior while trying to dispel various “rape myths.” Ziv was the prosecution’s first witness to set the stage for the six accusers the jury was about to hear from.
“There isn’t a single woman in here who hasn’t experienced the pain of being made to feel lesser,” Bliss said. “Yet we are not snowflakes. We’re not delicate flowers so this ‘rape myth’ that someone like Dr. Ziv would ask you to buy into —‘If she says X it’s rape. If she says Y it’s rape.’ — it could be a false accusation.”
Added Mesereau: “No expert on sexual assault, no matter what data they show you, no matter what studies they related to you, can explain lies. When it comes to experts who want to tell you about delayed reporting, they can’t explain flat-out lies.”
Mesereau spent his hour detailing what he called Constand’s “lies,” Cosby’s travel records and phone records. The latter two are key because the defense is trying to show the assault occurred around Dec. 15, 2003, which would the statute of limitation on the offenses would have lapsed by the time Cosby was arrested on Dec. 30, 2015.https://www.thedailybeast.com/andrea-constand-gets-graphic-about-bill-cosby-in-retrial-testimony?ref=authorc