NORRISTOWN, PA — Bill Cosby’s lead defense attorney gave a powerful opening argument Tuesday morning calling “so-called” drugging and sexual-assault victim Andrea Constand a “con artist” and invoking the memory of Cosby’s only son, Ennis, who was murdered in 1997.
“Andrea Constand was 30 years old” when she met Cosby, defense attorney Tom Mesereau said in a 50-minute opening argument. “Mr. Cosby was in his 60s. She said she was not attracted to him. She said, ‘He’s older than my father.’ But she was madly in love with his fame and money.”
Constand, now 44, made up the drugging and sexual assault allegations to get money out of him, Mesereau claimed, which led to a civil suit she filed against him and, ultimately, a $3-million settlement with him in October 2006.
“She knew exactly what she was doing and, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, she’s now a multimillionaire because she pulled it off,” he said. “She’s a con artist. Well prove it.”
He also sought to get sympathy for Cosby from the jury, saying he was vulnerable when he met her.
“He was lonely and troubled and he made the terrible mistake of confiding in this person what was going on in his life,” Mesereau said. “Bill Cosby confided in her that he had never recovered from his sons murder.”
Ennis, 27, was shot to death in a robbery gone bad in 1997 in Los Angeles.
Cosby, 80, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania mansion in January 2004. Cosby denies Constand’s allegations, as well as similar ones from more than 60 women.
“Finally Mr. Cosby has his day in court,” Mesereau said. “It’s brutal for him. He’s 80 years old and legally blind but he’s eager to have his day in court. It’s not fun but he welcomes the opportunity for some vindication. This man deserves some vindication in this case because the case is nonsense.”
The prosecution kicked off its case around 10:40 a.m. with sexual assault expert Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist, who said she’d testified in 190 cases throughout the country educating people about the behavior of both sex offenders and sexual-abuse victims.
Co-prosecutor Kristen Feden spent 20 minutes going over Ziv’s qualifications while defense attorney Kathleen Bliss spent another 15 minutes grilling her about the same thing before she was even allowed to begin testifying.
Overall, the retrial continued to move at a snail’s pace, thanks to Cosby’s defense team.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill initially delayed Mesereau’s opening argument Tuesday morning to deal with the latest set of motions the Cosby team filed late Monday afternoon.
This time the defense challenged two of the prosecution’s expert witnesses—sexual-assault expert Veronique Valliere and another sexual-assault expert—and asked to admit the 2007 conviction for making a false report to law enforcement of Chelan Lasha, one of the five other accusers scheduled to testify in the trial.
“It appears to me to be a smear tactic and I do lot believe it is relevant to the prosecution or to Mr. Cosby,” Lasha’s attorney, Gloria Allred, told The Daily Beast.
“The legal standard for a misdemeanor conviction more than ten years old—which this is—is is it more prejudicial than probative. This would be significantly more prejudicial than probative. I don’t think it should be admitted.”
Allred added: “Also this occurred after the alleged incident with Mr. Cosby.”
Cosby’s lawyers also filed another motion to get Juror #11 removed even thought the judge ruled against them Monday after a five-hour hearing. A juror who did not get picked claimed she overheard Juror #11 say he thought Bill Cosby was guilty. But after hearing from both of those jurors and others were in the room, O’Neill allowed Juror #11 to remain on the jury.
O’Neill seemed to grow weary of the flurry of motions from Cosby’s seven-member defense team and the length of time the defense spent arguing them.
“The court is not happy with the way the arguments are unfolding,” he said Tuesday morning. “I’d like to keep the arguments on these issue to at least 3 minutes. I don’t know if we need a lot more. At this stage the jury is sequestered. The jury is on our timeline and the more I spend out here with some of these issues the less time we have to get to the actual case and the more intrusions we have upon these jurors’ lives.”
O’Neill heard brief arguments on the issues but did not immediately rule.