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It's Show Time for Bill Cosby's Defense Team at Sexual Assault Trial

A spokesman has suggested that Bill Cosby might testify, but legal experts say that's highly doubtful.
Image: Bill Cosby departs Montgomery County Courthouse after the fifth day of the sexual assault trail in Norristown, Pennsylvania
Bill Cosby departs Montgomery County Courthouse after the fifth day of the sexual assault trail in Norristown, Pennsylvania on June 9, 2017.Bastiaan Slabbers / NurPhoto via Getty Images

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby's wife Camille made her first appearance at his sexual assault trial on Monday as the defense prepared to put on its case.

The trial resumes with a big question mark hanging over it: What do Cosby's lawyers have planned to counter a prosecution case that wrapped up with few missteps?

Cosby's spokesman has suggested that the comedian might testify when the case enters its second week, but legal experts say that's highly doubtful given the risk that he could doom himself with his own words.

"I suspect there is simply too much material for cross-examination for the defense to allow Cosby to take the stand," said Dennis McAndrews, a former prosecutor in Philadelphia who has been attending the trial.

"His deposition testimony 10 years ago strongly suggests he is not a witness who could be effectively coached or limited, as he admitted to a variety of conduct which was either criminal ... or socially unacceptable," McAndrews said.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty to drugging and molesting a woman who worked at his alma mater, Temple University, and he also denies allegations of sexual misconduct by 50-plus women who have come forward in the last two years.

In the first week of the trial, the prosecution presented 12 witnesses before resting its case Friday. Here are some of the highlights:

Andrea Constand: The woman at the center of the only criminal charges Cosby faces spent part of two days on the stand. A Canadian massage therapist and yoga devotee, she became emotional while telling jurors that Cosby drugged and molested her at his home in 2004 but maintained her composure under an often-chaotic cross-examination.

"I felt really humiliated, and I felt really confused," she said, holding back tears. The defense repeatedly grilled her about why she gave police two different dates for the alleged assault. "I made a mistake," she admitted.

Gianna Constand: The accuser's mother told jurors that her daughter confided in her about the encounter with Cosby a year later, while in the grips of emotional distress.

"He drugged her, he put her on the Chesterfield, and then he did whatever he wanted," the feisty retired medical secretary said. "And then he went to bed." More important, she recounted how she recorded one of two phone calls in which she confronted the entertainer — allowing prosecutors to play the tape, in which Cosby offers to pay for Andrea Constand's schooling and rebuffs a question about what medication he gave her.

Kelly Johnson: In a shaky voice, the former assistant to Cosby's agent said he drugged and assaulted her in a Los Angeles hotel bungalow in the mid-1990s, telling her she needed to relax and offering her a pill.

"He would not tell me what it was," she said. "He would just say, 'Would I give you anything to hurt you?'"

The defense tried to portray her as a star-struck secretary who hoped Cosby would help her break into show biz and grilled her about inconsistent statements. "Did anyone tell you to get selective amnesia in this case?" defense lawyer Brian McMonagle pressed. "No," she said, shaking her head.

Dr. Patrice Sewell: Johnson's mom, a retired educator, talked about how much she had admired Cosby. "We watched 'The Cosby Show,' and the family really related to the show. It kind of reminded us of our own family," she said.

Sewell also provided a crucial explanation for why Johnson never reported the alleged attack to police: Her father, a Los Angeles police detective, told her she shouldn't. "Her father didn't want her to be humiliated," she said, her voice strained and her eyes full of tears. "The shame and embarrassment. He's seen what women go through when they went to police at that time."

Joseph Miller: The worker's compensation attorney, who represented Cosby's talent agency when Johnson filed an emotional distress claim in 1996, proved to be an unexpectedly useful witness for the prosecution. Although the defense said his notes from a deposition would show that she told a different story about her encounter with Cosby back then, Miller's memory largely jibed with what she says now. He agreed with the defense that his notes said the incident happened in 1990, not 1996, as Johnson testified, but the discrepancy remains unexplained.

Veronique Valliere: State law allowed the Pennsylvania psychologist to testify about the behavior of victims, although she was not permitted to talk specifically about the Cosby case. Prosecutors hoped she would show the jury that Constand's continued contact with Cosby was not unusual for sexual assault survivors. But her effectiveness may have been undercut by revelations that she had previously commented about the case in a Facebook post in which she declared "victory" for the prosecution. The defense moved for a mistrial, which was denied.

Detective James Reape: An investigator for the Montgomery County District Attorney's office, Reape was the conduit through which prosecutors got Cosby's damaging 2005 deposition, with his admission that he gave Quaaludes to women for sex, into the court record. The defense quizzed him about what Cosby said under oath.

"There is no doubt ... that he is describing sexual activity that he maintains is consensual, correct?" lawyer Brian McMonagle asked him. The detective responded, "Correct."

Dr. Timothy Rohrig: The toxicologist testified that both Benadryl, which Cosby says is what he gave Constand, and Quaaludes, which prosecutors say may have been the culprit, could cause symptoms similar to those Constand says she experienced. He also said Benadryl has been used to facilitate sex crimes. "It's one of the drugs in our casework we look for," he said.

Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Friday.Matt Rourke / AP

There have been few hints about whom the defense will put on the stand. Defense lawyers may present their own toxicologist, and there's been some suggestion that they could summon an expert to discuss a syndrome that psychologists call "false memory creation."

Wes Oliver, director of the criminal justice program at Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh, said he would be surprised if the defense presented a parade of positive character witnesses for Cosby, because it would open the door for the prosecution to present negative character witnesses.

And the possibility of Cosby's getting in the witness box? Gloria Allred, who represents Johnson and some of the other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, summed up the conventional wisdom Friday when she said it was as "likely as any of us going to the moon on Monday."