A Pennsylvania jury on Tuesday was set to enter its first full day of deliberating whether Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a female friend who had come to him for career advice in his home in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2004.
Cosby, best known for his role as the dad in the 1980s hit family TV comedy “The Cosby Show,” was charged in late 2015 with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, just days before the statute of limitations on the alleged crime was to run out.
Constand is one of dozens of women to have accused Cosby of sex abuse – often after plying them with drugs – in a series of incidents dating to the 1960s. The allegation by the now 44-year-old former staffer at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University, is the only one not too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.
Constand was the prosecution’s star witness in the weeklong trial in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown, testifying that Cosby gave her pills that left her unable to respond when he sexually assaulted her. Another witness, Kelly Johnson, testified that she was the victim of a similar attack by the entertainer in 1996.
Cosby, 79, whose long career was based on a family-friendly comedy style, did not testify. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and described his encounters with Constand as consensual.
In his closing argument on Monday, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Cosby’s words incriminated him, noting that the defendant had given multiple depositions and police statements on the incident including saying he had not had sexual contact with Constand “asleep or awake.”
Sex with an unconscious person cannot be consensual, Steele noted.
Defense attorney Brian McMonagle in his closing statement said Cosby was guilty of adultery, which is not a crime, but not sex assault. Among those listening was Cosby’s 73-year-old wife of half a century and business manager, Camille, who came to the courtroom for the first time on Monday.
The defense strategy focused on highlighting inconsistencies in Constand’s past statements about the timing of the alleged assault and pointing out that she remained in contact with Cosby for weeks after the night in question.
Cosby’s attorneys sought to portray Constand as a woman whose allegations were motivated by money. She settled a 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby for an undisclosed sum, though jurors did not hear about that case.
Cosby still faces multiple civil lawsuits by other accusers.
The jurors in the trial are Pittsbugh-area residents, who have been brought to the Norristown courthouse at the order of Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neill. They began deliberations on Monday and have been sequestered at a hotel for the trial’s duration, a relatively rare occurrence in the U.S. criminal justice system.