NORRISTOWN, Pa. – Bill Cosby’s defense lawyer Tuesday morning derided the woman at the center of the sexual assault case against the entertainer as a “so-called victim” and con artist who “milked him” out of more than $3 million – and said it was Cosby who was the real victim of a scam to get money out of him.
“This man deserves some vindication in this case because the case is nonsense,” Los Angeles defense lawyer Tom Mesereau told the jury here in suburban Philadelphia, where Cosby is standing trial on charges that he drugged and molested Andrea Constand back in 2004.
Cosby’s first trial ended in June when another jury deadlocked on all the charges after more than 50 hours of deliberations. The entertainer – once known as “America’s Dad – has pleaded not guilty and contends that their sexual contact was consensual.
Standing at a lecturn and facing the 12 jurors and six alternates, Mesereau portrayed Constand as a woman with money troubles who once remarked to a colleague that she could frame a famous person in order to get a big financial settlement.
Cosby, meanwhile, was lonely and vulnerable, a star still mourning the death of a son, who had been murdered in 1997. Mesereau said that “Hollywood is a treacherous place” where lots of “young men and beautiful women scramble to find success but often fail.”
“Bill Cosby was a big name in Hollywood,” he said, and Constand realized she had an opportunity. “What does she want?” he asked the jury. “You already know the answer: money, money and lots more money.”
Constand ultimately received nearly $3.4 million in a settlement of a civil lawsuit she filed against Cosby, and Mesereau highlighted that the agreement noted that Cosby denied any wrongdoing and only settled the case to avoid negative publicity.
“Her attitude was, ‘I can become a multimillionaire,’” said Mesereau, but it was a “paltry sum” for Cosby. But look where it got him, the lawyer went on. “He’s now on trial for his life.”
Mesereau said he was honored to be defending Cosby against the charges and predicted that jurors would find him not guilty.
“Mr. Cosby isn’t guilty. He’s no criminal,” said Mesereau, a well-regarded defense lawyer who successfully defended Michael Jackson against child molestation charges back in 2005 – the same year that Constand reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted by Cosby.
Mesereau made an oblique reference to the #MeToo movement – which has highlighted the victims of sexual assault by a slew of rich and famous men in Hollywood – but expressed confidence that jurors would not be affected by the cultural atmosphere.
Constand is just one of the more than 50 women who have said they were sexually assaulted by the once-beloved entertainer over decades. But her accusation is the only one to force him into a criminal trial. The charges were filed just days before the statute of limitations was due to expire.
The judge has allowed prosecutors to call up to five of the other accusers, and Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told the jury Monday that he will show that other such incidents were part of a “plan, scheme or design” that will help buttress Constand’s testimony.
Cosby, now 80, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.