What we learned at Bill Cosby’s first major hearing

Ed Hille/ The Philadelphia Inquirer/ Pool

National media swarmed on Norristown, Pa. this week as a judge spent two full days hearing arguments by Bill Cosby’s lawyers that sexual assault charges against him should be thrown out based on a former DA’s promise.

While the main story is a judge ruled that thesexual assault case can move forward, the lengthy hearing also gave some new insights into the controversysurrounding Cosby, his alleged victim Andrea Constand, and how the case was handled in the courts. Here is some of what we learned.

What happened to Autumn Jackson?

You may have heard of Autumn Jackson. Her mother was one of Cosby’s mistresses, and newspaper accounts say Jackson demanded $40 million from Cosby to not go to the press with the story of their relationship.

Cosby acknowledged providing funds to Jackson through her life, although he denied being her biological father and refused to take a paternity test.

Jackson wound up charged with extortion in federal court for demanding millions and tearfully apologized for the crime before being sentenced to 26 months.

However, during the Cosby hearing, Constand’s civil lawyer DoloresTroiani referred to that case as a set-up by Cosby and said it was the reason Constand wouldn’t accept a pay-out from Cosby.

“Mr. Cosby wanted her to go to Florida,” Troiani said, saying Cosby contacted Constand with an offer to fly her in his private jet to Miami where he would give her an “educational trust.”

“They [Constand and her mother] never asked for any money. He was the one who interjected money into this,” Troiani said. “They only wanted an apology.”

Here’s where it gets tricky. Troiani said convicted extorter Jackson had received funds from Bill Cosby in a similar scenario — flying to Florida, and then crossing state lines with the funds — before being charged and convicted. That’s why Constand went to Troiani for legal advice after Cosby put his offer on the table.

“My concern was whether my client would be convicted for extortion,” Troiani testified. “We felt Cosby, who had done this before, was setting her up.”

What Cosby wants

Legal issues with the charges against Cosby, including those raised at his Wednesday hearing, are so complex that appeals on specific issues could potentially take months, if not years.

For example, Judge Steven T. O’Neill ruled from the bench against the motion to dismiss charges due to the argument that Cosby ceded his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and testified in Constand’s civil lawsuit because of a non-prosecution agreement an agreement.

The decision was not issued in writing. After Cosby’s lawyers requested a written decision, O’Neill said the law did not require it and he would not do so.

However, any matter concerning potential constitutional violations is of interest to an appellate court.

Beyond that, questions remain that could contribute to appeals that, even if unsuccessful, could delay the trial indefinitely — such as whetherConstandillegallywiretappedphone calls with Cosby or ifcurrent Montco DA KevinSteele should be disqualified from the case.

Cosby is currently scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing in just over a month on March 8.

The many faces of Bruce Castor

Former Montco Bruce DA Castor is known for being a bit touchy with the press. He shut down his social media accounts after a Facebook rant implying reporters knocking on his door could be shot dead by his wife and “Mr. Luger,” and is rumored to have threatened a Times Herald reporter with a lawsuit over the use of the word “may.” So let’s be clear: this is not intended as a personal attack.

During his testimony on Tuesday, former Montco Bruce DA Castor presented an enigmatic and at times baffling vision of his handling of the Cosby case and his powers as a district attorney.

“To be clear Mr. [Brian] McMonagle, [Cosby’s lawyer] ‘I’m not on your team, I want them to win,’” Castor said with a Cheshire cat smile, after testifying for hours as a defense witness that charges could never be brought against Cosby because his 2005 decision to not prosecute was permanently binding because he “was the sovereign.”

Castor said as DA, he was the “minister of justice,” and after deciding Constand had “ruined her own credibility” and would never be believed in court, that he wanted Cosby “punished” in civil court and today hopes he “made her a millionaire.”

Castor also claimed his permanent non-prosecution deal with Cosby was done for Constand’s lawyers’ benefit and with their consent, but they both denied any knowledge of the deal a day later.

When confronted with his quotes to media making wildly contradictory claims — stating at some points that Cosby was cooperative and Constand was not credible, at others that he always believed Constand, and even saying the case could be reopened despite his claims of a non-prosecution deal — Castor clammed up.

He claimed he had done so many interviews he couldn’t remember them all, and that some reporters might have gotten his quotes wrong. He said one local reporter “usually” got it right, and remembered an interview with anchor Chris Cuomo, but not Cuomo’s network being CNN.

These inconsistencies and vague statements likely gave current Montco DA Kevin Steele the grounds to win on his argument that Castor’s credibility went “out the window” regarding his assertion of a non-prosecution deal.

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