Cosby accuser denies framing him or knowing key witness
Norristown, Pa. – Bill Cosby’s chief accuser at his sex-assault trial Monday denied framing him and said she doesn’t know a key witness who plans to testify she spoke of leveling false accusations against a celebrity.
Andrea Constand told jurors she doesn’t “recall ever having a conversation with” Marguerite Jackson. Both women worked at Temple University around the time Constand says Cosby drugged and molested her at the comedian’s suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
The defense plans to call Jackson as a witness and says she will 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.
A judge blocked Jackson from testifying at last year’s trial, which ended in a hung jury, after Constand took the stand and denied knowing her. At the time, Judge Steven O’Neill ruled Jackson’s testimony would be hearsay. Since then, prosecutors have told Cosby’s lawyers that Constand had modified her statement to acknowledge she “recalls a Margo.”
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.
Jackson’s availability as a witness for Cosby could be crucial to a defense plan to attack Constand’s credibility and get jurors to believe she set Cosby up.
Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau, who has called Constand a “con artist” who framed Cosby and then collected a $3.4 million settlement, asked her about Jackson during cross-examination Monday. She once again denied knowing her.
The defense lawyer then asked, “Did you ever fabricate a scheme to falsely accuse him for money?”
“No sir,” Constand replied.
The defense then ended its questioning.
Constand, 45, testified last week that Cosby knocked her out with pills and then sexually assaulted her. Cosby, 80, says Constand consented to a sexual encounter.
If convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison on each of three charges of aggravated indecent assault.
On Monday, the defense also tried to cast Constand as an unrequited lover who acted inappropriately by showing interest in the long-married Cosby. She has testified that she saw the former TV star as a mentor and had no romantic interest in him.
The defense said she spent late nights at the comedian’s home, drove four hours to see him at a casino and called him twice on Valentine’s Day, about a month after the alleged assault.
Constand said her phone calls to Cosby were about basketball and had nothing to do with romance.
Phone records show Constand, the former director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University, made brief calls to Cosby around the time of a Temple home game on Feb. 14, 2004, the month after the alleged assault.
“You think you called Mr. Cosby to talk about basketball?” Mesereau asked her.
Constand testified that she felt a duty to answer Cosby’s inquiries since he was a powerful alumnus and trustee.
Picking up where he left off Friday, Mesereau questioned Constand about inconsistencies in her police statements and prior testimony.
Mesereau said Constand told police in 2005 that she called Cosby from her university-issued cellphone just before she arrived at his house on the night of the alleged assault to ensure the gate would be open. But Constand’s phone records show she did not make any calls to Cosby’s mansion that month.
Constand explained that she may have been mistaken, that there were times Cosby told her in advance that the gate would be open and that she often reached him at another number.
Prosecutors have called five other women to the stand who said Cosby drugged and assaulted them too. The defense has called the other accusers irrelevant to the case.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.