Judge rules jury can hear Bill Cosby quaaludes testimony

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Prosecutors in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial can read the comedian’s prior testimony about giving quaaludes to women before sex to the jury, the judge in the case ruled Tuesday.

Judge Steven O’Neill ruled Tuesday that prosecutors can read the testimony into the record at Cosby’s retrial on charges he drugged and molested Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. The testimony was also included at his first trial that ended with a hung jury last year.

Cosby testified at a deposition related to Constand’s lawsuit against him that he had gotten quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He said he was given seven prescriptions for the now-banned sedative, ostensibly for a sore back.

Cosby said he never took the drug, instead giving it to women he wanted to have sex with.

“Quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case,” Cosby testified.

Cosby’s lawyers argued the testimony is irrelevant to his retrial because there’s no evidence he gave Constand the drug.

Prosecutors are building to the conclusion of their case against Cosby with investigators and a pharmaceutical expert expected to take the stand beginning Tuesday in the comedian’s sexual assault retrial.

The prosecution on Monday delivered a searing one-two punch as Constand rejected defence allegations that she concocted her story to score a big payday, and her mother testified that Cosby apologized and called himself a “sick man.”

Andrea and Gianna Constand’s testimony followed that of five additional accusers who told jurors that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them two decades earlier.

As Cosby arrived at the suburban Philadelphia courthouse Tuesday, spokeswoman Ebonee Benson told reporters that their testimony “seemed to be more colorful and more embellished” than at the first trial. She said that Andrea Constand helped devise a plan to make money off Cosby and her mother helped her execute it.

Benson’s statement came a day after Andrea Constand withstood a defence cross-examination that sought to expose her as a con artist who set Cosby up, leaving the witness stand at his retrial without budging from her allegation that he drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

“Did you ever fabricate a scheme to falsely accuse him for money?” Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau asked her.

“No, sir,” Constand replied.

Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball administrator, was mostly calm and composed in more than seven hours of testimony over two days.

Her mother followed her on the witness stand on Monday and was more feisty, often clashing with prosecutors and bristling when they asked her if she benefited from Andrea Constand’s $3.4 million civil settlement with Cosby.

“She didn’t buy ME a house,” Gianna Constand snapped. “This isn’t about money.”

The mother testified about a phone conversation she said she had with Cosby about a year after the alleged assault on her daughter in which he described in graphic detail their sexual encounter and then apologized.

Gianna Constand said she was “very combative” with Cosby, demanding he tell her the medication he had given her daughter and what he had done to her.

She said Cosby told her he had given Andrea Constand a prescription drug — not the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl as he has claimed — but did not provide the name of it. She said he described how he had touched Andrea Constand’s breasts and vagina and guided her hand to his penis.

“He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Mom, there was no penile penetration,’” Gianna Constand testified.

She told jurors that Cosby said he “felt like a dirty old perverted man” and, at the end of the call, conceded he was a “sick man.” Her testimony prompted Cosby, sitting with his lawyers at the defence table, to open his eyes wide.

Andrea Constand told jurors last week that Cosby knocked her out with pills and then sexually assaulted her. Cosby, now 80, says Constand consented to a sexual encounter. His first trial ended with a hung jury.

At last year’s trial, Cosby’s lawyers suggested that Constand and the former “Cosby Show” star were lovers who had been intimate with each other in the past. This time, defence lawyers are trying to portray Constand as an opportunist who feigned romantic interest in him and then levelled a false accusation of sexual assault so she could file a lawsuit.

Constand has testified that she saw the former TV star as a mentor and had previously rejected his advances. And she said her phone calls to Cosby were about basketball and had nothing to do with romance.

The defence plans to call as a witness a former Temple administrator, Marguerite Jackson, to testify that before Constand lodged her allegations against Cosby in 2005, Constand had mused to her about setting up a “high-profile person” and filing suit. Jackson has said that she and Constand worked closely together, had been friends and had shared hotel rooms several times.

On Monday, Constand testified she did not “recall ever having a conversation with” Jackson.

A judge blocked Jackson from testifying at last year’s trial after Constand took the stand and denied knowing her. At the time, O’Neill ruled Jackson’s testimony would be hearsay.

The judge has ruled that Jackson can take the stand at the retrial but indicated he could revisit the issue after Constand was finished testifying.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

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Follow Mike Sisak at https://twitter.com/mikesisak.

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For more coverage visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial.

Michael R. Sisak And Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press

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