Cosby lawyer’s opening statement: Plaintiff wanted ‘money, money and lots more money’
Bill Cosby’s defense attorney in opening statements Tuesday described Andrea Constand as a “so-called victim” who was really a con artist after his client’s money.
“You’re going to be saying to yourself, ‘What does she want from Bill Cosby?’ and you already know. Money, money and lots more money,” Cosby attorney Tom Mesereau said. “She was madly in love with his fame and money.”
“She has a history of financial problems until she hits the jackpot with Bill Cosby,” Mesereau added.
Cosby’s defense arguments came a day after prosecutors said Constand, a former Temple University employee, was drugged and assaulted by Cosby at his home in January 2004.
Cosby, the 80-year-old TV icon, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of aggravated indecent assault.
‘This was about money’
On Monday, prosecutors revealed for the first time that Cosby paid Constand $3.38 million as part of a civil settlement related to the alleged assault. Cosby did not admit any liability, wrongdoing or fault in the settlement.
With little to no forensic evidence in the case, Constand’s testimony is central to the case against Cosby. But Mesereau argued that the millions paid to Constand and the lack of liability proved the lawsuit wasn’t filed for principles.
“This was nothing about principle, this was about money,” he said. “The only principle was money, money, money, money.”
A previous trial on these charges ended last year in a hung jury and a mistrial. But the retrial takes place in a world colored by the #MeToo movement and its reckoning with powerful celebrities using their power to harass and assault women.
Prosecutors said they plan to call up to five women who have also said Cosby drugged and assaulted them in similar ways. Prosecutors plan to use these witnesses to “prior bad acts” to show that the star’s actions with Constand were not a one-time mistake but part of a deliberate pattern.
Mesereau called this strategy “prosecution by distraction” because they did not have enough evidence.
“When you don’t have a case, you have to fill the time with something else,” he said. “Remember my words as you listen to the people testify.”
‘This case is about betrayal’
On Monday, prosecutors said the case was about trust and betrayal. Cosby was a powerful trustee at Temple University, and he worked to gain the trust of Constand, an employee with the Temple women’s basketball team, they said.
Cosby betrayed that trust in January 2004 when he pushed her to take drugs and wine that incapacitated her and then sexually assaulted her without her consent, prosecutors said.
“This case is about betrayal, and that betrayal leading to the sexual assault of a woman named Andrea Constand,” Montgomery County prosecutor Kevin Steele said.
Constand reported the alleged assault to police a year later, but no charges were filed at the time. She and Cosby then settled a civil lawsuit in 2006 that would remain secret for almost a decade.
As part of that settlement, Cosby paid Constand $3.38 million, prosecutors said for the first time on Monday. The settlement says Cosby entered into the agreement so long as the facts, allegations and information gathered during the course of the litigation did not become public.
In 2015, a judge made parts of that settlement public, including Cosby’s deposition in which he admitted he got prescription sedatives to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
That admission in the settlement led prosecutors to reopen the case against him, leading to these charges. But the price tag and other details of that agreement had remained a secret until Monday.
The prosecution’s opening statement was delayed until Monday afternoon due to a defense motion to dismiss a juror. The defense argued that juror made a comment indicating the comedian is guilty. Ultimately, the judge didn’t dismiss any of the jurors. The 12 jurors and six alternates were brought into court and sworn in Monday afternoon.