Bill Cosby Trial Day 2: Actor's Team Denied Mistrial in Sexual Assault Case
A compilation of reports from the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial courtesy of deathandtaxes.
After Tuesday’s (June 6) lunch recess in the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby, the 79-year-old actor's defense counsel Brian McMonagle asked for a mistrial based on the absence of a deposition from the 1996 worker’s compensation claim of prosecution witness Kelly Johnson. No soap! Judge Steven T. O’Neill was having none of that idea and explained to McMonagle that he knew all this already and ruled against it in pretrial motions. (I paraphrase.)
Also in the afternoon, the prosecution scored with the much-anticipated first appearance of plaintiff Andrea Constand, now a massage therapist living in Canada. Patient and unruffled, her poise appeared to catch the defense off guard. For example, Constand, who had already described an unwelcome advance of Cosby’s (he allegedly put his hand on her thigh, and she moved away, she says) was accused by defense counsel of having failed to report this previous “sexual contact” with the star. She scarcely batted an eye as she denied the allegations.
Asked why she’d remained silent about the abuse — many months passed before she told her parents about it, during which time she pretended to her family that things were fine between herself and her famous mentor — Constand replied: “It was a very big burden on me. But at the time I did not have the courage to tell my family. So I went along with it.”
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Cosby Attorney Angela C. Agrusa Takes on Constand
Cosby’s lawyers wasted no time on Tuesday in their ongoing attempts to besmirch Constand’s character. She’s a liar, they insinuate. She had sexual contact with Cosby over and over, and phoned him all the time, and she was basically a jilted lover, according to them. She wanted help from Cosby with her career, she had ulterior motives, she wanted a romantic relationship with this man 37 years her senior.
Defense lawyer Angela C. Agrusa, head of litigation for the Los Angeles-based Liner LLP, explored these themes over hours of cross-examination. One big line of questioning concerned Constand’s attempts, in the wake of her alleged sexual assault by Cosby, to secure legal representation. Agrusa produced phone records and other documents showing that Constand had called different lawyers, that she had shopped around and asked people she trusted for advice about lawyers.
Agrusa’s remarks suggested that she thought this a contemptible thing to do even though she, Agrusa, is very evidently a lawyer. Asked why she felt she needed a lawyer, Constand replied, “I felt that if I had gone to the police that Mr. Cosby would retaliate and try to hurt me,” she said, “that he would try to hurt me or my family in some way.”
McMonagle, of Philadelphia’s McMonagle Perri McHugh & Mischak, was at great pains to suggest that Monday’s prosecution witness Kelly Johnson was a drug user, a charge she denied. This, even as Johnson described the pharmacopoeia she found in Cosby’s bathroom. McMonagle’s client, meanwhile, had boasted under oath of having obtained prescriptions for Quaaludes to have on hand for when he met a lady he wanted to get to know better.
For her part, Agrusa accused Constand of befriending Cosby because she wanted his help in starting a sports broadcasting career. And he did assist her some with that, introducing her to well-connected people in that industry who might help. Constand pointed out that she was then employed by Temple University, whose interests she represented as a basketball administrator; her relationship with Cosby, a trustee and benefactor of the university, was largely a professional one, beneficial to her institution.
“You personally would benefit,” Agrusa said contemptuously.
“If you want to say it like that, it’s partly true,” Constand conceded. Older successful people take promising proteges under their wing all the time. It is self-interested, and rightly so. That is how ambitious young people establish careers.
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