NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Jurors in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial are kicking off a second day of deliberations by revisiting the testimony of a star defense witness who said accuser Andrea Constand once spoke of framing a prominent person to score a big payday.
The seven men and five women will have Marguerite Jackson’s testimony read back to them when court resumes on Thursday, after a marathon, 10-hour first day of deliberations failed to yield a verdict in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.
Exhausted jurors called it a night after rehearing excerpts from Cosby’s old deposition testimony.
They included his version of what happened the night Constand says he drugged her with three pills and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home in January 2004, and his admission that he gave quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with in the 1970s.
Cosby gave the deposition more than a decade ago as part of Constand’s civil suit against him, which he settled in 2006 for nearly $3.4 million.
He has said his encounter with Constand was consensual.
Constand, a former Temple University sports administrator, was in the courtroom on Wednesday as jurors asked to rehear Jackson’s testimony that she mused about fabricating sexual assault allegations to “get that money” from a civil suit.
Jackson, an academic adviser at the school, testified for about 1½ hours last week. She was immediately challenged by prosecutors who produced travel records suggesting she wasn’t on the Feb. 1, 2004 women’s basketball trip to Rhode Island where she says the conversation took place.
As jurors started weighing charges that could put Cosby in prison for the rest of his life, the 80-year-old comedian’s lawyers came under fire for what some called a blatant attempt to “victim-shame” women who’ve leveled accusations against him.
In their closing argument after two weeks of testimony, Cosby’s lawyers launched a withering attack on Constand and five other women who told the jury that the former TV star had drugged and assaulted them, too.
Defense attorney Kathleen Bliss chastised Constand for “cavorting around with a married man old enough to be her grandfather.” She derided the other women as homewreckers and suggested they made up their stories in a bid for money and fame.
She questioned the “personal morality” of one accuser and called another, model Janice Dickinson, a “failed starlet” and “aged-out model” who “sounds as though she slept with every man on the planet.”
And she slammed the #MeToo movement itself, calling Cosby its victim and likening it to a witch hunt or a lynching.
“They’re playing on the same old myths that have been protecting perpetrators for centuries,” said Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. She said the defense’s closing argument was filled with “rampant and ingrained” misconceptions about sexual assault and victim behavior.
“It was not only an attack on these six accusers,” Houser said, “it was a verbal slap to survivors all across this country.”
Gloria Allred, the lawyer for three of the women who testified, blasted the defense’s closing as “victim-shaming and victim-blaming” and said Cosby’s lawyers had smeared her clients in a win-at-all-cost effort at an acquittal.
Perhaps anticipating the criticism, Bliss told jurors in her closing that “questioning an accuser is not blaming the victim.”
Cosby spokeswoman Ebonee Benson said: “There is no assassination of any character.”
Bill James, a defense lawyer in Little Rock, Arkansas, said vigorous advocacy is a defense lawyer’s job.
Attacking an accuser’s credibility — especially if there are no other witnesses and no physical evidence — is standard practice in sexual assault cases, he said.
“What’s good taste and what’s aggressive representation are not always the same,” he said. “In a criminal case you have a greater obligation to go after a witness’s credibility because you’re dealing with someone’s freedom.”
In her own closing argument, Cosby prosecutor Kristen Feden rebuked Bliss for engaging in “utterly shameful” and “filthy” character assassination of Constand and the others.
“She is the exact reason why women don’t report these crimes,” Feden said.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand and Dickinson have done.
By MICHAEL R. SISAK and CLAUDIA LAUER
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