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Cosby defense says Andrea Constand 'tried to milk' comedian for millions

"He was foolish, he was ridiculous, lonely and attracted to a younger woman," the defense said in its opening statement.
by Meredith Mandell and Kalhan Rosenblatt /  / Updated 
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Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial on Tuesday at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.Matt Slocum / AP

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby's defense teams claimed in their opening statements on Tuesday that Andrea Constand, who has accused the comedian of sexual assault, brought the accusations to "milk him for more than $3 million."

"What does she want from Bill Cosby? Money, money and lots more money," defense attorney Thomas Mesereau asked and answered in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday, also saying that Constand is "now a multimillionaire because she pulled it off."

Mesereau also accused Constand of being inconsistent in her claims and said Cosby and Constand had a sexual relationship because the comedian's son had just died and he was vulnerable.

"He was foolish, he was ridiculous, lonely and attracted to a younger woman, but he didn’t commit a crime," Mesereau said.

During his argument, Mesereau appeared to reference the #MeToo movement, telling the jurors he had faith that they would give Cosby a fair hearing despite the "current climate."

"It is a 'he said, she said,' but what they are hoping for in the current climate is you will be blinded by accusations, and I believe you will give Bill Cosby a fair shake," he said.

Following Mesereau's opening argument, Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist, became the first person to take the witness stand. Accusers could also testify on Tuesday.

During the prosecution's opening statements a day earlier, it was revealed that Cosby paid Constand nearly $3.4 million in a 2006 civil settlement. She alleges that he drugged and molested her in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

That revelation came after attorneys were summoned to the judge's chambers to discuss an unselected jury candidate who claimed that a chosen juror had said he believed that Cosby was guilty.

The judge ultimately decided not to dismiss the juror, and the prosecution was able to make its opening statements late Monday afternoon.

“This case is about trust. This case is about betrayal and that betrayal leading to a sexual assault of a woman named Andrea Constand,” prosecutor Kevin Steele said. "“We are going to talk about trust, a trust that was built over time.”

Steele alleged that Cosby gave Constand Quaaludes that left her unable to consent to sexual activities and left her feeling violated. In a deposition Cosby gave in 2005 as part of Constand's civil lawsuit, Cosby admitted using Quaaludes during sex.

Even before setting foot inside the courthouse on Monday, Cosby was confronted by a topless protester — who was later revealed to be a former child actress on "The Cosby Show."

Covered in nothing but the names of Cosby's accusers, Nicolle Rochelle, 39, jumped a barrier separating a crowd of protesters from Cosby before being tackled by police and detained. She was later charged with disorderly conduct and could face a fine, officials said.

In a conference call with reporters, Rochelle said she had been living in Paris and working with that women's activist group Femen, which regularly stages topless protests against people and institutions it accuses of oppressing women, and the group's name was prominently scrawled on Rochelle's body.

After Rochelle's protest, security was increased at the courthouse on Tuesday and protesters did not immediately appear to be outside.

When asked how he was feeling on Tuesday, Cosby shook his head "yes" but said nothing, raising his hand as he made his way past reporters.

Among those expected to testify during the retrial is former supermodel Janice Dickinson.

The retrial comes after Cosby's first trial ended in a deadlocked jury last year. It is the first high-profile case of the #MeToo movement. Over the past few years, about 60 women have come forward with allegations against Cosby dating to the 1960s.

Meredith Mandell reported from Norristown, and Kalhan Rosenblatt from New York.

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