'Fancy lawyering' cannot save Bill Cosby, jurors told as trial draws to a close

'Fancy lawyering' cannot save Bill Cosby, jurors told as trial draws to a close
Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial with his wife Camille Cosby, right, at the Montgomery County Courthouse. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Bill Cosby's trial raced towards a close, with his lawyer telling the jury that the comedian and the woman who accuses him of drugging and molesting her more than a decade ago were lovers who had enjoyed secret "romantic interludes".

Prosecutors countered by saying "fancy lawyering" cannot save Cosby from his own words - namely, his admission about groping Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate after giving her pills he knew could put her to sleep.

"Drugging somebody and putting them in a position where you can do what you want with them is not romantic. It's criminal," District Attorney Kevin Steele said in his closing argument.

The jury of seven men and five women was expected to get the case later in the day.

A conviction could send 79-year-old Cosby, once one of the most beloved entertainers in showbusiness, to prison for the rest of his life.

The two sides launched into their closing arguments after the defence put on a case that consisted of just one witness - a detective - and six minutes of testimony.

Cosby himself chose not to take the stand, ending days of suspense over whether the jury would hear directly from him.

Legal experts said testifying would have been a risky move that could have opened the TV star to withering cross-examination about some of the 60 or so other women who have accused him of drugging or molesting them.

Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle said that while the comedian had been unfaithful to his wife, he did not commit a crime. He said that the comic's 2004 sexual encounter with Ms Constand was consensual and that they had been intimate before.

Mr McMonagle also pointed out that Ms Constand telephoned Cosby dozens of times after the alleged assault. She 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," Mr 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 six-day-old trial - was stoic during the defense argument but left when it was the prosecution's turn. She sat in the front row, across the aisle from Ms Constand.

Ms Constand, 44, testified last week that Cosby gave her three blue pills and then assaulted her as she lay paralysed and half-conscious. She denied they had a romantic relationship and said she had rebuffed previous advances from him.

She sued Cosby after prosecutors in 2005 declined to press charges. Cosby testified over a decade ago as part of that lawsuit, eventually settling with her 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 and charge him.

"This is not a civil case about money, money, money. We're talking about all the man's tomorrows," he said.

In the prosecution's closing argument, Mr Steele said that Cosby's lurid statements from 2005 helped corroborate Ms Constand's allegations.

He also reminded jurors about a telephone conversation in which Cosby apologised to Ms Constand's mother and described himself as a "sick man".

"This is where all the fancy lawyering can't get you around your own words," Mr Steele said.

In his 2005 deposition, 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 Ms 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.

The sole witness for the defence was the detective who led the 2005 investigation, Richard Schaffer, who previously took the stand during the prosecution's case.

He testified this time that Ms Constand had visited with Cosby at an out-of-state casino before the alleged attack and that police knew he had vision problems more than a decade ago. Cosby has said he is legally blind because of glaucoma.


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