Prosecution Hones in on Bill Cosby's Own Statements in Sex Assault Trial Closing
The prosecution's closing used Bill Cosby's own words to try to convince a jury to convict him of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand
In a powerful closing on Monday afternoon, the prosecution used Bill Cosby‘s own words to try to convince a jury he should be convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
“Why are we here?” Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney Kevin Steele asked jurors as he began his two-hour-and-15-minute closing argument.
“He has told you what he has done, and there are a number of factors we’ll go through in this case to discuss what he did afterward that goes to his consciousness of guilt on what he does,” Steele said, referring to Cosby, 79.
The jury was sent home late Monday night after not reaching a verdict.
The comedian faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with Constand’s allegations. She claims he sexually assaulted her at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004.
Cosby has pleaded not guilty to the charges — insisting their sexual contact was consensual — and has denied similar allegations from more than 60 women. Constand, who is gay, says the contact was not consensual.
“We want you to look very, very close at his words because when you do, there is no other decision to make in this case then that he is guilty of aggravated indecent assault,” Steele said in his closing Monday. “If you do, you will be doing justice.”
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Steele skillfully walked the jury back through the evidence in the case — using it to weave a tale of a young, vulnerable woman who was exploited and abused by a man 37 years her senior, whom she viewed as a mentor, and whom she called “Mr. Cosby,” not Bill, belying the defense’s portrayal of what happened as a consensual sexual encounter between two people involved in a romantic relationship.
“He has ingratiated himself to [her] family,” Steele argued in his closing, in describing Cosby’s interactions with Constand, who was then working at Temple University in Philadelphia. “He has taken on a role as a mentor. He was giving her career advice.
“She comes to his house. She’s in a volatile state. She’s asking for career advice. And that’s when he goes and says, ‘I have three friends for you to make you relax.’ ”
Constand, 44, has said Cosby was referring to the pills he gave her the night of the alleged sexual assault. She said he told her it was herbal medication. He later told authorities it was Benadryl.
“Drugging someone so you can put them in a position so you can do something [sexual] to them is not romantic,” Steele said. “It’s criminal. Drugs and consensual relations don’t go together. Drugs impact a person’s ability to make decisions and that was the defendant’s goal. … Think of that in terms of the courage Andrea Constand has shown.”
Accuser’s Mom and Cosby’s Wife Watch from the Attendees
Steele concluded his closing argument around 4 p.m. Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill then spent nearly an hour instructing the jury on the law before sending them to begin deliberations. He sent them back to their hotel shortly before 10 p.m. when they had not yet reached a verdict.
The jurors had one question before that: They asked to hear Cosby’s “three little friends” quote from his deposition in context.
While the prosecution took four and a half days to present its case against Cosby, his defense was over in six minutes.
Defense attorney Brian McMonagle only called one witness: Sgt. Richard Schaffer of the Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, police and a detective on the original case. Schaffer was asked to confirm statements he took by Constand in person and on the phone.
Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesman, last week dangled the possibility that Cosby might testify in the trial, but ultimately he did not. Judge O’Neill put Cosby under oath to make sure he was okay with this decision as well as presenting only one witness on his behalf.
Camille Cosby — who walked into the courthouse on Monday with her husband of 50-plus years (in her first appearance at the trial) but came into the courtroom 30 minutes after him — left during the lunch break, after the defense’s closing argument, which concluded at 12:30 p.m.
She sat in the first row behind Cosby. Her face never changed expression, even as McMonagle repeated graphic details of what her husband said happened between he and Constand sexually.
Andrea and her mother, Gianna Constand, walked into the courtroom about 10:30 a.m. to sit on the prosecution side and hear closing arguments. Gianna left in tears during the defense’s closing argument but was back in court when Steele began.
‘The Defendant Is Guilty’
In his hours-long closing, Steele took time to directly address each of the arguments McMonagle raised in his closing argument.
While the defense made much of Constand initially giving a different date for the incident to police, Steele ran through a list of nearly a dozen things that were undisputed between the two including, including that he gave her pills, where it happened and that some sexual contact had occurred between them.
“When they talk about different dates? There’s no dispute this is the incident we’re talking about,” Steele said. “To be going off on these tangents is a distraction to the evidence you have to decide upon. … She [Andrea] spent a lot of that time trying to forget what happened, then trying to remember that night.”
Steele then put on the screen information that in sexual offenses, a victim’s uncorroborated testimony — if believed — is enough for a conviction.
But he argued that there is also corroboration in this case: Cosby’s own statements to police and in depositions in Constand’s long-settled civil suit against him, as well as testimony from Kelly Johnson, a woman who says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at a bungalow in the Bel Air hotel in Los Angeles in 1996.
“This is two people [who]…never even met each other,” Steele said, “but look at all the similarities in terms of what happened.”
While McMonagle painted as irrelevant Cosby’s admission in the earlier deposition that he gave Quaaludes to women with whom he wanted to have sex, Steele disagreed. Cosby also said in that deposition that he knew the effects Quaaludes would have on a person and knew two Benadryl alone made him drowsy.
“All the fancy lawyering you have can’t get you around your own words, your own statements,” Steele said. “Because he tells you about it and what it does to him.”
Steele scoffed at McMonagle’s characterizing what happened between Cosby and Constand in 2004 as a romantic interlude.
“You’ve got a five-bedroom home,” he said. “You assume there are beds in those rooms. You’re there by yourself. You don’t help her sleep in a bedroom? You put her on a sofa, you do what you do to her and then you leave here there? No blanket, no nothing, clothes up around her. Come on. The suggestion of that, that this is about their relationship together? … What did he do? Go up to bed leave her on the sofa.”
And while the defense focused in on 53 phone calls Constand placed to Cosby after the alleged assault, Steele countered that they were related to her work at Temple. He highlighted how many calls there were after March 31, 2004, when she left her job: just three, lasting one minute each.
“The defendant is guilty of all three charges,” Steele argued. “This is a very straightforward case. And there is not an ability to get around what came out of the defendant’s mouth.”