NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—Bill Cosby is the con artist, not his rape victim Andrea Constand, prosecutors said in their closing arguments Tuesday afternoon while blasting Cosby’s defense attorneys for “assassinating” the character of the five women who testified against their client, as well as Cosby for laughing.
“Yes, you did hear about a con,” said Montgomery County Co-Prosecutor Kristen Feden, who shared the three-hour closing argument with Deputy District Attorney Stewart Ryan. “The defense was accurate when they said that. But the perpetrator of that crime? This man sitting right here.”
Feden walked across the courtroom to the defense table and stood next to Cosby, who frowned, moved away, and refused to look at her.
“This is the man who hurtfully assaulted Miss Constand in such a way with his practiced method she had no idea about,” she said.
Cosby cloaked himself in his pristine public image as “America’s Dad” and used it to lure in unsuspecting women, she said.
“He is nothing like the image he plays on TV and in fact he utilized that image... to gain the trust, the confidence of these young, aspiring, unsuspecting women,” she said. “That’s what the facts are about. She is not the con. He is.”
Feden also lashed out at defense attorney Kathleen Bliss, who skewered Constand and each of the five other accusers during her closing argument Tuesday morning.
“She’s the exact reason why… victims of sexual assault don’t report these crimes,” Feden said.
Ryan addressed the $3 million settlement Constand got from Cosby in late 2006, saying Cosby gave her the large amount even though his team at the time knew all of the so-called damaging information about her they trotted out at trial and “in light of the defendant having actually been a victim of an extortion plot” by Autumn Jackson, a woman claiming to be his daughter.
“They would like to engender sympathy in each and every one of you,” he said to the jury, “but consider Autumn Jackson. Did the defendant pay Autumn Jackson $3.38 million? Did the defendant try to buy off Autumn Jackson with an educational trust? With a flight to Miami?”
Mesereau repeatedly objected but was overruled.
“No,” Ryan said. “He called the police and then she went to jail.”
Cosby, 80, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand 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.
Defense attorneys Bliss and Mesereau gave their shared two-hour closing argument Tuesday morning. Feden and Ryan began theirs after the lunch break Tuesday afternoon and finished shortly after 5 p.m.
Feden went into a detailed defense of each of the accusers vilified by Bliss.
Heidi Thomas was 22 years younger than the defendant who got funneled to Cosby via her modeling agency, JF Images.
“He ingratiated himself with her family, just like he did with Andrea Constand,” Feden said. “There’s a trend. There’s a common scheme. She accepted his invitation under the guise of accepting career advice and guidance. This was Bill Cosby: The very fame and promise he used to capture this nation was the same fame he used to lure these women into a place that only he controlled.”
Chelan Lasha was just 17 years old when she met Cosby, she said.
“She met the defendant and just like he did with Andrea and just like he did with Heidi Thomas he ingratiated himself into her family,” she said. “This is the modus operandi of the con. He had dinner with grandma. So when he invited her to his [hotel room] to talk about modeling, no one suspected anything. That doesn’t give him the license to sexually gratify himself at their expense, certainly not at the expense of a 17-year-old.
“Miss Bliss wants to point out that over 10 years ago she was convicted for giving false identification” to law enforcement, she said. Yet Lasha testified anyway, she said.
“That was her revealing to each and every one of you, ‘Yeah I may have a spotty past but this happened to me and I need these nightmares to stop,” Feden said. “And I can tell you why she was assassinated in that way because her testimony of where she was assaulted mirrors Miss Lotte-Lublin’s testimony of where it occurred. These women don’t know each other. And the promises he made to her about sending her pictures to the Ford Agency. The same promise he made to Miss Lotte-Lublin.
“It’s the same con, ladies and gentleman. Just a different victim.”
As she was in the middle of defending Janice Baker-Kinney and how Bliss disparaged her, she seemed to catch Cosby chuckling.
“He’s laughing like it’s funny,” she said as she flew across the room and glared at him. “But there’s absolutely nothing funny about drugging a woman. There’s nothing funny about that, Mr. Cosby. There’s nothing funny about no permission and there’s nothing funny about intoxicating an individual so he can get what he’s after.”
Finally, Feden apologized to Constand, who came back to town for the prosecution’s closing argument and was sitting in the second row, for their office not pressing charges in 2005, something the defense has tried to use against them in this case. Ryan thanked Constand.
“Back in 2005 when this sexual assault victim called police… our office didn’t prosecute the case,” Feden said. “We take full responsibility for it. We failed Andrea Constand back in 2005. We failed her.”
Judge O’Neil announced the jury was exhausted at the end of Tuesday and would begin deliberations on Wednesday.