NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Defense attorneys for embattled funnyman Bill Cosby implored jurors in his sex assault retrial to clear their client Tuesday, casting the decision as “one of the most important” they will ever make.
“Acquit, acquit Mr. Cosby,” lawyer Kathleen Bliss pleaded. “You’re about to make one of the most important decisions you will have ever made in your lives. You will decide the fate of Mr. Cosby.”
In a stunning closing, Bliss blended nods to #MeToo with attacks on Cosby’s main accuser and the five additional women accusers who took the stand against him.
At one point, she shocked the courtroom by turning to Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele and, hand on her hip, accusing him of sex assault.
“I could say Mr. Steele sexually assaulted me last year. It’s my word against his word,” Bliss shrugged as the DA’s mouth fell open.
“But it’s preposterous,” she added.
Cosby, 80, stands accused of drugging and molesting former Temple University basketball administrator Andrea Constand in his Cheltenham, Pa. home in January 2004. Constand, 45, says Cosby gave her “three friends to help [her] relax,” before she slipped into blackness and was “jolted” back to reality by Cosby forcing his fingers into her body.
Bliss focused her arguments on the “cast” of five accusers and other evidence the defense presented over their four day case. She was later joined by lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau, who spent his arguments on the “dead, bang lies” told by Constand.
“Is Ms. [Janice] Dickinson really the moral beacon that the women’s movement wants?” Bliss smirked, her honeyed voice turning icy as she described the supermodel and fellow Cosby accuser. “She’s a failed starlet, she’s an aged-out model.”
“And it sounds as if she’s slept with every man on the planet,” added the attorney, who prefaced her morality-focused attacks on Constand’s five fellow accusers by saying: “Questioning an accuser is not shaming a victim.”
Bliss implored the jury to look beyond the testimony of other fellow accusers Heidi Thomas, Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney and Maude Lise-Lotte Lublin, who described feeling embarrassed, scared or confused following the alleged assaults.
“We are not snowflakes. We are not delicate flowers,” the attorney told jurors. “As women, we don’t abandon facts or science, or truth. As men and women we reject gossip, and speculation, and false promises.”
Mesereau — who made his name in Hollywood by procuring Michael Jackson’s stunning 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges — laid out 12 separate “lies” he says Constand told during her time on the stand.
“How many lies do you need?” he asked. “You need pliers to pull the truth out of this person.”
Mesereau pointed to various channels of questioning his team had pursued as they attempted to fell Constand’s account – saying she lied about being alone with the comedian, about flirting with him, about wearing sweaters Cosby have her, about how often she called him, about prior sexual contact, and about rooming with former Temple Colleague Marguerite “Margo” Jackson.
“Margo Jackson is her worst nightmare,” Mesereau says of Constand. “If Margo Jackson is believed by you, we’re out of here.”
Jackson took the stand last week to testify that Constand told her in a Rhode Island hotel room that she could make up allegations against a celebrity to “get money.”
Cosby would later pay her $3.4 million as part of a 2006 settlement.
“I call that settlement agreement one of the biggest highway robberies of all time,” Mesereau said. “She didn’t require him to say he did anything wrong. she just wanted the money.”
“He though he was paying for peace, the attorney said of his client. “Instead he’s 80 years old and on trial for his life. That’s what he got out of it. She was a con artist.”
“This woman will say anything, she will absolutely say anything,” Mesereau later said of Constand. “She’s a pathological liar.”
The statement came after Mesereau reminded jurors that some 202 calls were made between Constand and Cosby during the more than two years they knew each other.
During January 2004, the month Constand says she was attacked by the TV pioneer, the duo exchanged 100 calls, according to records. Seventy-five were made by Constand, and 25 by Cosby, Mesereau said.
“This man is innocent.” the lawyer-to-the-stars said. “It’s a he-said, she-said, with no forensics.”
“If you take into account [Constand’s] enormous problems with credibility, her willingness to lie, her greed, her statements to Margo Jackson – if you take all of this into account, the dead-bang evidence that this couldn’t have happened in January – if you take all of this and put it together, Mr. Cosby must walk out of here free,” Mesereau concluded.
Before arguments began, Camille Cosby drifted down the courtroom aisle, and into the well itself to embrace her husband of 54 years.
Cosby, grinning ear to ear, whispered something in her ear as his hand snaked around her back and pulled her in for a quick kiss.
At best, her husband is a serial philanderer. At worst, a serial sexual predator. Yet Camille sat in proudly in the front row of the gallery, beaming as Bliss and Mesereau delivered their closing arguments in defense of her longtime partner.
If convicted, the aged entertainer faces up to ten years in prison on three charges of aggravated indecent assault.
Prosecutors will deliver their closings Tuesday afternoon.