Rather than focus completely on the night in 2004 that Bill Cosby allegedly assaulted Andrea Constand, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele chose instead to take the jury behind the scenes of the investigation in his opening statement today as Cosby’s sexual assault retrial got underway in Norristown, PA.
Steele discussed how it took more than 10 years for the D.A.’s investigation to lead to charges. He told them about details of police interviews with Cosby and the deposition. He even brought up what could be used as a weapon of the defense: how Constand earned $3.38 million off a settlement with Cosby in 2006.
“Andrea Constand didn’t come to us,” Steele told the jury. “What happened was after this was released we came to her and asked whether she was willing to cooperate with the Commonwealth, which brings us here today.”
By bringing up the settlement amount and explaining the 12 years between the alleged assault and the charges, Steele was tackling what could be considered the prosecution’s greatest weaknesses. The defense is aiming to portray Constand as a calculating gold-digger, using the settlement as an example, and he brought it up before they could.
The defense won’t give its opening statement until Tuesday morning. Statements were delayed by five hours this morning because of a motion from Cosby’s lawyers alleging one juror had made an earlier statement saying he believed Cosby was guilty. Judge Steven O’Neill interviewed all 12 jurors in a private conference with the attorneys. The defense had asked for the juror in question to be dismissed, but no jurors were removed.
Steele’s opening statement differed from the prosecution’s last year in the detail with which it described the investigation. He even used PowerPoint slides featuring Cosby statements from a 2005 police investigation and from the 2006 deposition. Last year’s opening statement primarily focused on the January 2004 night Cosby allegedly assaulted Constand and the witnesses the prosecution would call.
Steele also harped on how this case would come down to “he said, she said” details. Although he mentioned Constand would be called to testify, he indicated how important the “he said” would be to their side, too, highlighting several quotes Cosby made in the deposition and police statements and to Constand’s mother about offering to pay for Constand’s education; why Cosby worried about being recorded; and discussions about the types of pills and alcohol he offered Constand.
“He used words to try to encourage her to drink some,” Steele said. “Because of that trust, she did. And that leads to what happened. It led to a woman being incapable of making a decision.”
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