NORRISTOWN — Bill Cosby used his fame and notoriety to attract women from models to masseuses, only to later get close to them and their families, then drug them and sexually assault them, prosecutors said today.
During a(nother) pre-trial hearing in the only criminal case against Cosby, Montgomery County District attorney Kevin Steele laid out what he called a pattern of behavior by Cosby; he did “things to instill the trust “ and “then he exploits that trust.”
“This is,” Steele said, “a lifetime of sexual assault on young women.”
While Steele was outlining the ways investigators believe Cosby exploited women for decades, Cosby casually leaned back in his chair. When he got out of an SUV this morning outside the courthouse, Cosby laughed, asking his publicist if he remembered to bring lunch.
Court is currently on a short break. Then at 11 a.m., a courthouse choir is expected to begin singing Christmas carols on the stairs of the Montgomery County courthouse, just steps outside the courtroom where the case is being discussed. The judge will likely call an early lunch break during the caroling at 11 a.m., and arguments will continue again this afternoon.
Prosecutors in Norristown this week are attempting to show a pattern of sexual abuse similar to how Andrea Constand described her 2004 encounter with Cosby. Constand is the former Temple University employee at the center of the criminal charges filed against the comedian. In 2005, she told authorities Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his Cheltenham home.
Charges were filed in December 2015, just days before the statute of limitations expired, by Steele, who cited new evidence in the way of newly-released civil depositions in Constand’s case. Last month, lawyers argued over the admissibility of those depositions, and Judge Steven T. O’Neill ultimately sided with prosecutors and is allowing those depositions to be entered as evidence at trial.
Today, Steele finished describing accusations made by each of the 13 women who could testify at trial. Some of them are among the 60 women who have come forward saying Cosby sexually assault them in the last two years.
Cosby’s defense attorney Brian McMonagle said accusers are trying to “[bring] down an American icon” through “bandwagon allegations.”
“This case was not brought because of Andrea Constand,” McMonagle alleged, later adding: “This is a means by way to overcome statutes of limitations because somebody decided to bang the drum and try to destroy an American citizen.”
Then, the district attorney took a shot at what he saw as anticipated arguments from defense attorneys that the 13 prior instances weren’t exactly the same as what Constand alleged. Specifically, the alleged incidents didn’t occur in the same place. In fact, they occurred in different locations across the country. And the way the victims described the encounters themselves differed from each other.
Steele said that’s because they were drugged — and Cosby shouldn’t be rewarded for that by rendering their testimony inadmissible.
“There may be intermittent memories of what he has done,” Steele said. “But again, he shouldn’t be rewarded for being good at intoxicating people and putting them in a state where they can’t resist.”
The issue of whether or not 13 other accusers should be allowed to testify at Cosby’s 2017 trial appears to be one of the final major pre-trial issues. The comedian’s trial is scheduled for June, but O’Neill has signaled that it could occur sooner.
Typically in Pennsylvania, what’s called “prior bad acts” that went uncharged aren’t allowed to be brought up in a criminal trial. However, they can be admissible if they are used to either 1. Show an “absence of mistake” — or that the defendant knew what they were doing — or 2. Show a pattern of conduct or a signature crime.
Steele argued allowing all 13 accusers to testify would do both. He said there are “remarkable similarities” that showed a common plan or scheme that he says Cosby used to get close to victims, then drug and sexually assault them.
“All 14 instances that we are putting forward,” Steele said, “are so related that the proof of one tends to establish the proof of another.”