UPDATE, 1:33 PM with more details: Week 1 of Bill Cosby’s criminal trial for the 2004 rape of Andrea Constand concluded with prosecutors from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office formally resting their case before Judge Steven O’Neill and the jury in the Norristown, PA courtroom.
After a morning in which Cosby’s defense lawyers attempted and failed to get the case tossed in a mistrial, and defense attorney Brian McMonagle aggressively questioning the prosecution’s sexual assault expert witness accusing her of bias, the afternoon saw further testimony from local police, more reading out of Cosby’s 2005 deposition, and a forensic psychologist who specializes in working with people who have been sexually assaulted.
The prosecution’s last witness also took the stand to explain the effects Benadryl or similar drugs can have on a person. In depositions and police interviews read aloud at the trial so far, Cosby has said he gave Constand three broken Benadryl pills the night she says he raped her at his Philadelphia-area home in early 2004.
“It can cause blurry vision, poor muscle coordination,” testified Dr. Timothy Rohrig, a forensic specialist in toxicology, about taking the recommended dose of Benadryl.
“Recommendation for any over-the-counter sleep aid is one pill, 25 milligrams,” said Rohrig, who teaches at Wichita State University and the University of Lincoln in the UK, among others. By his estimation, based on the evidence presented at trial, what Cosby gave Constand would have been either “75 milligrams or 37.5 milligrams,” depending if Constand took three halves of Benadryl or three full Benadryl.
The week ended on a rare note of levity when O’Neill asked Montgomery County Deputy D.A. Stewart Ryan if he had any more questions following a short cross-examination by defense lawyer Brian McMonagle. “I’m temped,” quipped Ryan to laughter from the room, before declining to ask more.
With the jury dismissed for the weekend, O’Neill seems confident the trial will be over mid-next week, a couple of days ahead of schedule. As Deadline exclusively reported yesterday, it is looking increasingly likely that Cosby could testify in his own defense after previously asserting he would not.
In the morning session, Cosby’s defense attorney McMonagle asked Dr. Veronique Valliere, an expert witness in sexual assaults, if she was biased. “You’re biased in this case, aren’t you?” he asked during her testimony. Pacing the floor, he showed the courtroom a Facebook post from Valliere’s company linking to a Washington Post article about the Cosby case during the pretrial period. Picking up some of her testimony from earlier today, Valliere admitted to McMonagle that she wrote the words, “Victory the case goes on” underneath the news article on her social media page.
“Whatever the content of the article is, it is not relevant to this case,” Judge Steven O’Neill told Cosby’s lawyers, declining efforts to show the article in full to the jury.
Having lost a bid earlier in the day for a mistrial in the case in part because of Valliere’s testimony, McMonagle then tried to catch the forensic psychologist as misrepresenting herself to the D.A.’s office as having not read up on the case. Valliere drew back to a series of “I don’t recall” and “maybe” in response to what ended up being a relatively short line of questioning.
“I don’t think an expert should ever, especially in this case, comment on the credibility of victims,” Valliere testified when asked if such an approach was appropriate.
“Did you disclose to the District Attorney’s office that you have a bias in this case?” McMonagle asked Valliere again.
“No, I don’t have a bias,” the doctor responded, ending the exchange and the lawyer’s questioning.
If Cosby is found guilty for the three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault against then-Temple University employee Constand, the 79-year-old could face more than 10 years behind bars.
More than 60 women have come out and publicly accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the decades and are pursuing civil cases. Those incidents occurred in jurisdictions where the statute of limitations on criminal proceedings has expired. The Philadelphia trial is the only criminal case against Cosby.
Cosby, who was in court today as he has been each day of the trial and most of the pre-trial hearings, has always insisted the encounter with Constand was consensual.
Some of Friday’s morning session was focused on the section of Cosby’s September 2005 deposition in Constand’s civil case in which the actor revealed giving Quaaludes to women he had sex with. Although the jury has heard about Cosby giving Benadryl to Constand and having a supply of prescription medication, this is the first time it has heard about the actor using Quaaludes. Cosby admits in the deposition he knew it was illegal to give the drug to others. That information became public in 2015, when the revelations of the 2005 deposition were unsealed by a federal judge.
As he had earlier in the day and yesterday, Montgomery County police officer James Reape read out Cosby’s words in the deposition in response to questions by D.A. Kevin Steele. Cosby insists in the deposition that the seven prescriptions for Quaaludes he received from a now-deceased Los Angeles doctor were for an injury for his back, but the physician knew that’s not what Cosby was going to use them for. Cosby said in the deposition that he got the drugs purely because “you people” were using them “to party with” and “I wanted to have some just in case.”