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Politics

Judge Delays Ruling on Andrea Constand’s Confidante

April 21, 2018

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby’s lawyers want jurors at his sexual assault retrial to hear from accuser Andrea Constand’s confidante before deliberations get underway next week — but they’re having trouble getting the woman to cooperate.

Sheri Williams has been unreachable, Cosby’s lawyers said Friday, asking a judge for permission to read parts of her deposition into the record just as prosecutors did with Cosby’s old testimony.

Judge Steven O’Neill appeared skeptical of the defense request, saying he wants to hear from a witness who can show the defense has made a reasonable effort to serve Williams with a subpoena to testify in person. O’Neill put off a ruling until Monday.

Constand testified at Cosby’s first trial last year that she and Williams were good friends and would speak “at all hours of the day: morning, noon, and night.” She said they were in touch as she went to police in January 2005 with allegations he drugged and molested her about a year earlier.

Cosby’s lawyers said they expected Williams’ testimony to refute Constand’s claims that she was unaware he was romantically interested in her. And they said the testimony would show that Constand “could not have been the unwitting victim” prosecutors have portrayed.

Constand testified at the trial that Cosby had never expressed any romantic interest, though she called the passes he made at her before the alleged assault — touching her thigh and trying to unbutton her pants — “a little bit absurd.”

“Mr. Cosby was just a little bit younger than my grandfather. He was a married man and I absolutely showed no interest in him. But I wasn’t threatened and I didn’t judge him,” she testified.

Williams’ deposition was part of Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against Cosby, who wound up settling for nearly $3.4 million. Cosby testified in his own deposition — also given as part of Constand’s lawsuit — that he had a romantic relationship with her.

Two weeks in, Cosby’s trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault is rapidly winding down.

O’Neill told jurors Thursday that there are only a few more days of testimony. Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau went into the case predicting it would last about a month.

A pair of drug experts — one for the prosecution and one for the defense — spent Thursday debating one of the case’s enduring mysteries: What drug did he give his chief accuser on the night she says he molested her?

Cosby has insisted he handed 1½ tablets of the over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to Andrea Constand to help her relax before their sexual encounter at his mansion outside Philadelphia. Constand testified he gave her three small blue pills that left her incapacitated and unable to resist as he molested her.

The experts agreed that paralysis isn’t known to be a side effect of Benadryl, though its active ingredient can cause drowsiness and muscle weakness, among other side effects.

Cosby’s expert, Harry Milman, said he didn’t know of any small blue pill that could produce the symptoms Constand described.

The “Cosby Show” star has previously acknowledged under oath he gave quaaludes — a powerful sedative and 1970s-era party drug that’s been banned in the U.S. for more than 35 years — to women with whom he wanted to have sex, but denied having the Quaaludes by the time he met Constand in the early 2000s.

Dr. Timothy Rohrig, a forensic toxicologist called by prosecutors, testified Thursday that quaaludes can make people sleepy. But he and Milman said the drug came in large white pills — not small and blue.

Prosecutors rested their case after Rohrig got off the witness stand.

Cosby’s lawyers are expected to call several people who worked for him, including an executive assistant and employees of his talent agency and publicity firm. It’s likely part of a bid to challenge the prosecution’s contention that the alleged assault happened within the 12-year statute of limitations.

Williams’ deposition testimony, which has been under seal, could provide insights into what led Constand to accuse Cosby and whether the encounter was a factor in her leaving her job a few months later as the director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University.

A private investigator working for the defense said he attempted to serve Williams at least six times at her North Carolina home before sending her a FedEx package containing a subpoena and instructions to call Cosby’s legal team.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.


By MICHAEL R. SISAK and CLAUDIA LAUER , Associated Press

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