NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby’s trial raced toward a close Monday, with his lawyer telling the jury that the comedian and the woman who accuses him of drugging and molesting her were lovers who had enjoyed secret “romantic interludes.”
Declining to take the stand in his own defense, the 79-year-old TV star left it to his attorney to argue that Cosby’s 2004 sexual encounter with Andrea Constand was consensual. Lawyer Brian McMonagle said in his closing argument that while Cosby had been unfaithful to his wife, he didn’t commit a crime.
McMonagle pointed out that Constand telephoned Cosby dozens of times after the alleged assault. Constand told the jury she was merely returning his calls about the women’s basketball squad at Temple University, where she worked as director of team operations and he was a member of the board of trustees.
“This isn’t talking to a trustee. This is talking to a lover,” McMonagle said of one call that lasted 49 minutes. “Why are we running from the truth of this case — this relationship? Why? I don’t understand it.”
Cosby’s wife of 53 years, Camille — in the courtroom for the first time in the 6-day-old trial — was stoic during the defense argument. She sat in the front row, across the aisle from Constand, who didn’t react to McMonagle’s two-hour closing but smiled at the end of it.
Cosby could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
The prosecution was expected to deliver its closing argument in the afternoon, and the jury could get the case later in the day.
Constand, 44, testified last week that Cosby gave her three blue pills and then penetrated her with her fingers against her will as she lay paralyzed and half-conscious. She sued Cosby after prosecutors in 2005 declined to press charges.
Cosby testified over a decade ago as part of her lawsuit, eventually settling the case for an undisclosed sum. His deposition was sealed for years until a judge released parts in 2015 at the request of The Associated Press, prompting a new set of prosecutors to take a fresh look at the case.
Cosby was charged a year and a half ago, just before the statute of limitations was set to run out. The case and a barrage of similar allegations from some 60 other women have shattered his nice-guy image from “The Cosby Show” as America’s Dad.
McMonagle told jurors that Cosby’s freedom is at stake now, not just his finances.
“This is not a civil case about money, money, money. We’re talking about all the man’s tomorrows,” he said.
McMonagle used a big screen to show jurors how Constand’s story evolved and details changed over three interviews she gave to police after coming forward about a year after she says he assaulted her at his suburban Philadelphia home.
McMonagle noted that Constand initially had trouble pinpointing when the assault occurred, telling police in one interview it happened in March 2004 and in others that it was January 2004.
He said Constand told police in her first interview that she had never been alone with Cosby before the alleged attack, but later admitted she had spent time alone with him at his home and at a Connecticut casino resort.
Cosby told police they had been romantic three times before. His count includes times he said he brushed her leg or cupped her face in his hands.
Constand said she twice rebuffed his efforts, including one time when he tried to unzip her pants. Cosby told police he succeeded.
“Why on earth would you go to the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, into a man’s bedroom, after a man unbuttons your pants and puts his hands down your pants?” McMonagle asked.
While Cosby opted not to testify, prosecutors were expected to remind jurors about the statements he made in his deposition. Testifying under oath in 2005, Cosby said he obtained several prescriptions for quaaludes in the 1970s and offered the now-banned sedatives to women he wanted to have sex with.
He also said he gave Constand three half-tablets of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl before the “petting” began. Prosecutors have suggested he drugged her with something stronger — perhaps quaaludes.
Earlier Monday, Cosby’s lawyers put on a case consisting of just one witness and six minutes of testimony before resting their case, calling the detective who led the 2005 investigation.
Detective Richard Schaffer was one of 12 witnesses who testified during the prosecution case. In his six-minute appearance Monday, Shaffer said that Constand had visited with Cosby at an out-of-state casino and that police knew he had vision problems more than a decade ago. Cosby has said he is legally blind because of glaucoma.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.