Comedian Bill Cosby said he will not be taking the stand during his upcoming trial on criminal sexual assault charges.
The news came as Cosby ended a two-year media blackout by appearing on Michael Smerconish’s program on Sirius XM radio. Smerconish spoke with Cosby by phone Monday and aired the interview in its entirety Tuesday.
“Do you expect to testify on your own behalf at that trial,” asked Smerconish.
“No, I do not,” replied Cosby.
Cosby later said that move was protective, because he didn’t want his lawyers to be “scrambling” to respond to his testimony under cross-examination.
During the sometimes rambling, half-hour conversation, Cosby declined to answer most specific questions about his upcoming trial and hewed closely to the topics of family, career and legacy.
For example, he shared hopes of one day having honors that have been “rescinded” from him — such as the honorary degrees revoked and murals whitewashed — returned.
“I’d like to get those things back because the people that decided to make that decision then saw they made a mistake,” he said.
Cosby also addressed comments by his daughter Ensa that racism played a role in his prosecution.
“Could be. Could be,” he said, musing. “There are so many tentacles. So many different — ‘nefarious’ is a great word. And, I just truly believe that some of it may very well be that.”
More than 50 women have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, spanning a 40-year period. Cosby faces aggravated sexual assault charges stemming from one encounter, in 2004 in his Cheltenham mansion.
Montgomery County prosecutors revived their investigation after civil deposition testimony by Cosby was unsealed in 2015. In the testimony, Cosby said he gave his accuser, Andrea Constand, pills before they had sexual contact, which the comedian maintains was consensual.
Responding to widespread reports that he has gone blind, Cosby said his health is good, in spite of glaucoma, which has “been known to me for decades.”
“I have some bumps on my forehead and eyebrows that prove that there are certain things that I have walked into,” he said.
Smerconish remarked on the timing of the interview — and recent statements by Cosby’s daughters in defense of their father — as a possible ploy for generating public sympathy in advance of jury selection. Cosby denied it.
“I just hope I’m not in trouble now, man,” he said at the end of the conversation.
Jury selection is set to begin Monday in Pittsburgh with the trial to follow June 5 in Montgomery County.