Family and celebrity friends ‘testify’ for Cosby in court of public opinion

 Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial with his wife Camille Cosby at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial with his wife Camille Cosby at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Comedian Bill Cosby’s trial for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand in 2004 is expected to wrap up on Monday. Nearly every day last week, he arrived at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., accompanied by other celebrity figures.

Bill Cosby’s wife of 53 years, Camille, did not make an appearance at the trial until Monday morning, when the defense team presented their case. She has made no public statements about her decision against accompaning Cosby during the first week of the trial. Spokesman Andrew Wyatt said the TV star told her stay away so that she wouldn’t have to endure the “media circus.”

Camille had not been seen publicly with Cosby since April, yet Wyatt told People Magazine that she has remained supportive of her husband since the allegations of assault against Cosby were made in 2014.

Attorney Gloria Allred, representing 33 of Cosby’s accusers, stated earlier last week: “The absence of Camille Cosby is noted. Usually a person charged with a crime, their spouse comes to show support for them.” 

Celebrity supporters

Cosby’s attorneys claim that the actor suffers from glaucoma and is consequently legally blind. His daily celebrity cohorts have seemed to act as guides, leading him through the crowds into the courthouse each day.

On June 5, Cosby arrived for the first day of the trial accompanied by his former co-star and TV daughter, Keshia Knight Pulliam. Pulliam, 38, portrayed Rudy Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992. Cosby has been involved in her life since she was only five years old, and has acted as a pseudo-father figure to her since.

Pulliam has received both support and scrutiny for her appearance with Cosby, becoming the target of tweets ranging from cries of “well done sister” to “YOU should be ashamed!! I know your kid will be!”

Not uncommon for children to stand by parental figures who’ve abused them/others. Some day #KeishaKnightPulliam will regret this decision.

— Lois Lane (@MetropolisGal) June 5, 2017

Cosby’s spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, commented on Pulliam’s appearance. “She’s not here to proclaim guilt or innocence. She’s here to finally hear the truth for herself in the courtroom. She wants people to stop listening to the sensationalism and come hear the truth,” according to People Magazine.

“I came to support [Cosby] because this is where you hear the facts. This is where the truth happens,” Pulliam told E! reporters upon leaving the courthouse last week Monday. “Ultimately, it’s easy to support someone and to be in their corner when things are great, when things are good. But … true family, friendship, integrity is how people show up and support when things aren’t looking so great, when they aren’t shining.”  

Pulliam says she will “accept whatever verdict” is made by the jury, stating that, “Right now, it’s the jury’s decision, and it’s the jury’s job to decide guilt and innocence. It’s not mine or anyone else’s. As an advocate for women … I don’t take these charges lightly. I don’t condone sexual assault in any way shape or form.”

On Tuesday, Cosby was accompanied only by his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt. Wyatt has been tasked with defending Cosby against the press and presenting him in the most positive light possible. Wyatt has urged the public to hear Cosby’s “passion and concern,” hoping that it reminds people who Cosby is and has always been. “I want people to hear that and hear the strength in his voice,” the publicist told CNN this May. “He has a strong mind, and he’s capable.”

Cosby arrived on Wednesday with another former co-star, Sheila Frazier, on his arm. Frazier is best known for her starring role in the 1972 film “Super Fly.” Cosby and the 68-year-old actress appeared on screen together in the 1978 American comedy “California Suite,” where they played husband and wife. They were also accompanied by Frazier’s husband and celebrity hairstylist, John Atchison. Cosby and his wife, Camille, are both clients of his.

Sheila Frazier has called on Hollywood actors who have worked with Cosby to support him — including coming out in person to do so — although she feels this cry has fallen on deaf ears. “I would encourage those in my industry, actors and other performers and comedians, to come and see for themselves,” said Frazier on Wednesday, while arm-in-arm with Cosby. “The whole support thing is to come and find out what truth is. So that’s my primary goal in being here, is to discover what the truth is myself, and to support my friend of many, many years.” 

Actress Sheila Frazier addresses reporters with Cosby, calls on others in Hollywood to come out to support Cosby during #CosbyTrial pic.twitter.com/zv3gZ1DlZc

— Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) June 7, 2017

Comedian Joe Torry and actor Lewis Dix, Jr. appeared jovial and cheerful as they escorted Cosby into the courthouse together on Thursday morning. Dix was born in Philadelphia, and is known for his role in the 1988 film “Cadillac Dreams.”

When asked what he believes motivated Constand to go to the police about her alleged assault, Torry replied, “We don’t know if it’s the truth.  We don’t know nothing until the outcome, and that’s why I’m here. I’m here to hear for myself, so nobody can tell me, nobody else can spin it, nobody else can edit it …. I’m in the business of entertainment, and you’re getting an edited version of somebody else, and from here I can’t getting no edited version, I’m hearing it from both sides.”

Comedian Joe Torry at #CosbyTrial to support Cosby. Torry not convinced Constand is telling the truth.”I know you can edit a story.” pic.twitter.com/56NoReylks

— Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) June 8, 2017

Torry also accompanied Cosby to the courthouse on Friday, along with Andrew Wyatt, who promised audiences a new set of guest stars to be there supporting Cosby the following week. Wyatt hinted that this might include Cosby’s wife Camille, as well as his TV wife, Phylicia Rashad, who played Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”

Rashad was not in court on Monday.

Whether these celebrity appearances are aimed at changing public opinion and controlling the story is not known. Cosby continues to have vocal supporters and detractors on social media. Two of his daughters, Erinn and Ensa, spoke out before the trial in May, supporting their father and accusing the media of publicly lynching him. They said that racism played a big role in his downfall.

The racism narrative from Cosby is a strong thread among some of his supporters.

The racially motivated Bill Cosby “rape” trial starts today

— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) June 5, 2017

In addition to celebrity support, University of Pennsylvania professor Mary Frances Berry approached Cosby in the courthouse on the third day of the trial and gave him a kiss and a hug. Berry’s work centers on civil rights and gender equality, and she is the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

“People in the civil rights movement are still annoyed with Bill for some of the comments Bill made about the responsibility of the community as opposed to enforcement,” Berry said on Wednesday. “I happen to disagree about that, too, but for me, it’s beside the point.”

She advocated for Cosby’s entitlement to due process, saying, “The man that I know, he’s good.”

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