UPDATED with prosecution’s closing argument, 4:21 PM: The more prosecutor Kristen Feden talked about Bill Cosby’s accusers, the more the comedian seemed to be smirking from his seat in the courtroom. Feden noticed, too. Twice during her closing argument, she addressed Cosby directly, calling him out to the jurors for laughing as she talked about the women who had accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting them.
“He’s laughing like it’s funny,” Feden said, “but there’s absolutely nothing funny about them being stripped of their capacity to consent.”
Feden and fellow assistant district attorney M. Stewart Ryan delivered the prosecution’s closing argument this afternoon at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, PA. The case originally was going to be sent to the jurors tonight, but they said they were exhausted. Judge Steven O’Neill will charge them Wednesday morning and begin deliberations afterward.
Feden focused on reminding jurors of Andrea Constand’s testimony against Cosby and how it jibed with the stories of the five other accusers allowed to testify, while Ryan countered the inconsistencies the defense tried to exploit in its closing argument. Unlike the mostly even-keel demeanor from the defense, Feden became animated at times, attacking both Cosby and his lawyers.
She went after Cosby from the beginning. After explaining how the comedian had been the con artist — and not Constand, as the defense claimed — she walked within a foot of him and said, “The perpetrator of that con was this man sitting right here.”
Feden was blunt in her evaluation of his attorneys, too. On multiple occasions she insisted that lawyers Tom Mesereau and Kathleen Bliss had “assassinated” the character of the five women who testified against Cosby in addition to Constand.
“The character assassination Ms. Bliss put those women through was utterly shameful, utterly shameful — and then she talks about women,” Feden said. “She’s the exact reason why women and men and victims of sexual assault don’t report these crimes.”
Cosby is accused of giving Constand three blue pills and sexually assaulting her in January 2004 at his home in the Philadelphia suburbs. Feden reminded the jury it could convict Cosby based on Constand’s words alone.
“You know this was not consensual because of Andrea Constand’s testimony,” she said. “[R]emember this case is about trust, betrayal and the inability to consent.”
The defense aimed to raise doubt in its closing statement by talking about Marguerite Jackson, who claimed that Constand once told her she could fabricate a claim of sexual assault, and going through phone and travel records for the entire month of January 2004 as a way of showing Cosby and Constand would have never been able to meet at his Philadelphia home. Ryan went through the way Jackson changed her statements before testifying, as well as how travel records indicated Jackson could not have roomed with Constand at the time she said Constand made the assault comment.
For the phone and travel records, he explained how Cosby had several periods of free days from his itinerary in January where he could have been in Philadelphia. And he used the phone records to illustrate how a call to New York could be returned from Cosby in Philadelphia, nullifying the defense’s claim Constand had never called Cosby’s home in January 2004.
Ryan spoke of how Cosby had long used his famous image to build trust among women. He asked the jury to end that image for good.
“It is time for each and every one of you to stand with Andrea Constand,” Ryan said, “and tell the truth about what he did.”
PREVIOUSLY, 9:48 AM: Toward the end of her portion of the defense’s closing argument this morning, Bill Cosby attorney Kathleen Bliss addressed the five women of the jury specifically. “I bet there isn’t a single one of you here who hasn’t felt the pain of being lesser or being made to feel lesser than your male counterparts,” she said. “But yet we are real women, we are not snowflakes, we are not velvet flowers…As women, we don’t abandon facts or science or truth.”
The plea fit the theme of a closing statement in which Cosby’s lawyers attempted to separate Cosby from the #MeToo undercurrent running through the comedian’s retrial for the alleged 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand and tried to convince the jury to feel empowered in another way: by acquitting their client.
Bliss and lead Cosby attorney Tom Mesereau split up the defense’s closing remarks, with Bliss focusing on a summary of their case and the five other accusers. Mesereau detailed what he called 12 lies from Constand about her relationship with Cosby and the night of the alleged assault and pored over phone and travel records he said show the alleged assault couldn’t have happened during the timeframe prosecutors have estimated. He said Constand was a “con artist” who had taken advantage of him with a $3.4 million settlement.
“He thought he was paying for peace,” Mesereau said. “He didn’t get the peace.”
Cosby is facing three charges of sexual assault against Constand, a former Temple University employee, stemming from a night in January 2004 at his Philadelphia-area mansion. The prosecution will give its closing argument this afternoon at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, PA. The jury of seven men and five women (10 white and two black) will be charged by the end of the day.
Bliss accused Constand and the five other accusers allowed to testify to show common scheme or design from Cosby’s actions as being out for money and the spotlight, using critical language to describe each one. Heidi Thomas, the first accuser to testify, was “a lovely woman, Ms. Littleton. She wanted to be a star, and she’s living the dream now.” Bliss called accuser Janice Baker-Kinney “a child of the ’70s and ’80s” who consensually slept with Cosby.
“His being married never entered her mind,” Bliss said. “Where is her morality? Seriously ladies and gentlemen, where are her values?”
Bliss referred to Janice Dickinson, the famed supermodel who testified, as “a failed starlet, an aged-out model.”
“It sounds as though she slept with every single man on the planet and when she flies hours and hours and hours from Bali to hook up with Mr. Cosby, demanding first class by the way, he’s not interested,” she said. “So she goes to her room and boozes it up and does quaaludes. This is a woman who has to do a paternity test with Sylvester Stallone and some other guy. You know, Rocky’s just a contender. Is Ms. Dickinson really the moral beacon that women’s movements want?”
Bliss described Constand as being untrustworthy, particularly compared to Temple employee Marguerite Jackson. Jackson testified last week to Constand telling her she could fabricate a claim of sexual assault against a celebrity to “get that money” while they were rooming together on a Temple women’s basketball road trip. Constand has said she barely knew Jackson and never roomed with her or anyone.
But it was Mesereau who largely went into detail about Constand’s relationship with Cosby. He spent a couple of minutes on each of the “12 lies” he said Constand has told about the case, from reasons why she had visited Cosy once in Connecticut to her originally not saying she wore a gray cashmere sweater Cosby had given her the night of the assault. Mesereau told the jurors he learned from Bliss the significance of wearing that sweater.
“She said, ‘Tom ask any woman what wearing the sweater means,’” Mesereau said. “I had missed it. Ms. Bliss clued me in.”
He displayed several records on a PowerPoint recounting the numerous phone calls Constand made after the date of the alleged assault and then cast doubt on the date of the alleged assault itself. The assault had to have happened sometime after December 30, 2003 for the charges to fit within the statute of limitations.
Mesereau went date by date from December 30, 2003-January 22, 2004, which Constand identified as the likely latest date the assault could have happened because her cousin moved in with her at that time, explaining Cosby’s whereabouts and phone records between the two. None of the days showed a phone call between Constand and Cosby’s Cheltenham residence. Constand testified she may have walked in to his home the night of the alleged assault without calling because the gate was open and called a different number for Cosby earlier in the evening.
Pointing to the phone and travel records and testimony from Jackson, Mesereau told the jurors the prosecutors hadn’t met their burden of proof.
“If you take all this and put it together and the law and the truth, Mr. Cosby must be acquitted,” he said. “He’s made some mistakes for sure, but he’s no criminal.”
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