The fourth day of entertainer Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial was dominated with a sense of déjà vu: Defense attorneys repeated a request they first made last fall to suppress portions of his more than decade-old deposition, in which he admitted he got Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to women he wanted to seduce.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill refused the request again Thursday — just as he did in December.
The decision was another victory for prosecutors during a week that some observers agree is not going well for Cosby, 79, who was charged with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Cheltenham Township mansion in 2004.
“It’s not a slam-dunk case … but at this point, they’ve got a big mountain to climb, the defense, and I’m not sure if they can get to the top,” said attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several of the nearly 60 women who have publicly accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them.
Defense attorneys Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa have not commented to reporters so far during the trial.
Constand testified Tuesday and Wednesday that her relationship with Cosby started out as a professional one that evolved into friendship — and eventually sexual advances from Cosby. Constand told the court she made it clear she didn’t want anything beyond mentorship. But during the incident that prompted this criminal case, she said Cosby plied her with wine and three blue pills that he assured her were safe herbal supplements — and then grabbed her breast and groped her genitals, while she was helpless to resist.
Cosby isn’t expected to testify, and made a rare public comment in May on Michael Smerconish’s radio show that he had no plans to take the stand during his trial. So Thursday’s court testimony focused on what Cosby said in a deposition in Constand’s civil lawsuit against him, as well as in his interviews with police after Constand reported she was sexually assaulted.
Attorneys zeroed in on a question at the heart of this case: Was there consent?
Cheltenham Township police Sgt. Richard Schaffer interviewed both Constand and Cosby after Canadian authorities referred Constand’s complaint to them. Of Constand, Schaffer said: “She seemed anxious to me, a little bit nervous. The overriding thing was that it seemed she wanted to get her whole story out.”
Cosby told police in January 2005 (about a year after the incident) that he had Constand, who then worked as director of the women’s basketball program at Temple University, over for dinner, and they chatted in his kitchen about her persistent anxiety and insomnia.
Cosby said he gave her two pills, which she washed down with red wine. They then began “petting” on a couch in another room. Cosby described the fondling as consensual and said she never stopped him.
When asked if he had intercourse with Constand, Cosby replied: “Never asleep, or awake,” before elaborating: “I never intended to [have] sexual intercourse, like naked bodies, with Andrea. Then I stopped, and I went up to bed.”
Cosby later told detectives: “She did not accept, nor did she reject it.” In his deposition, he said he went “into the area somewhere between permission and rejection,” adding: “She did not stop me.”
The next morning, Cosby said, he walked downstairs and found Constand awake on the couch. He gave her a homemade blueberry muffin and a cup of tea then ushered her off, never addressing the previous night’s activity.
Constand, in turn, told Schaffer she became “frozen” shortly after taking the pills, which knocked her out. She next remembers waking up on the couch with her “sweater bunched up, her brassiere undone,” Schaffer said. Constand told investigators she felt like she had been violated.
Constand’s mother, Gianna, later called Cosby to confront him about the alleged assault.
“Three times her mother says to me, ‘This is a horrible thing, what you have done to my daughter!’ It is something a mother hopes will never happen to her daughter,” Cosby told investigators.
“I apologized twice. I said, ‘What can I do?’ She said, ‘Nothing, your apology is enough,’” he told police, according to Schaffer.
In another telephone conversation that Gianna Constand secretly recorded, Cosby refused to say what drugs he gave to her daughter and offered to pay Andrea Constand’s graduate school tuition, so long as she maintained good grades.
Under cross-examination, McMonagle tried to undermine her credibility, pointing out that Constand gave several different dates for when the incident occurred, as well as details on what exactly happened that night.
McMonagle put Constand’s 2004 phone records on a projector for jurors to see and pointed out that Constand called Cosby twice on Valentine’s Day.
Prosecutor M. Stewart Ryan then looked at the same records and highlighted two calls just before and after the Cosby calls, placed to a Temple basketball coach.
“What did the coach and Andrea talk about on Valentine’s Day?” he asked, as chuckles rippled throughout the courtroom.
Schaffer replied, “I’m going to venture a guess: basketball.”
Jurors also heard from Purna Rodham Conare, one of Constand’s friends and neighbors. Conare testified that Constand grew reclusive in 2005 just before she left Philadelphia to return to Canada.
Of Constand’s move north, he said, “It was abrupt.”
Another neighbor wouldn’t agree to a police interview, saying Temple officials instructed her not to talk to police, Schaffer told the court.
This morning, Cosby arrived just before 9 o’clock, with comedians Joe Torry and Lewis Dix Jr. by his side.
“I’m just here to support him,” Dix said. “I love him. [I want to] bear witness to the truth.”
Torry, who said he’s known Cosby for 30 years, agreed, “This is a legend. This is a man I grew up loving and wanting to be like. So I’m here to see the truth for myself, see what’s going on.”
As soon as a reporter began asking the comedians whether they believed Cosby’s accusers, Cosby pulled the comedians away toward the courthouse door, saying, “Here we go, fellas. That’s it. Close it off.”
Dix and Torry were the latest of several celebrities who have escorted Cosby into court, including actress Keshia Knight-Pulliam, who played his daughter Rudy on “The Cosby Show,” and actress Sheila Frazier, who co-starred in a 1978 movie with him.
— Dana DiFilippo (@DanaDiFilippo) June 8, 2017
Such support rankled at least one Cosby critic, artist Bird Milliken, who walked around the courthouse today with signs and balloons — and a megaphone blasting Helen Reddy’s 1971 hit song “I Am Woman.”
“I felt like the survivors needed a voice,” said Milliken, a North Philly resident and an activist for the anti-domestic-violence group No More.
Milliken carried a big black posterboard hand with its middle-finger extended.
“It sickened me to see Cosby supporters, and the lack of support for these women,” said Milliken, her voice breaking. “So I wanted to make sure that they had a voice and to show support, even if I was alone. Every little bit matters, always. And women need to have a stronger, more united voice together. So this is my effort towards that.”
Constand, 44, a Toronto resident and former professional basketball player, is the only accuser whose complaint has resulted in criminal charges, mostly because statutes of limitations have expired for the others to bring criminal charges against Cosby.
If convicted, Cosby could go to prison for the rest of his life. The trial originally was expected to last two weeks, but O’Neill said today that he expects it will wrap up sooner than that.
Correction: An earlier version of this story confused two of Gianna Constand’s phone conversations with Bill Cosby.