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Tuesday 19 June 2018

Cosby accuser's goal is 'money, money and more money' - lawyer

Bill Cosby. Photo: AP
Bill Cosby. Photo: AP
Andrea Constand

Bill Cosby's lawyer launched a blistering courtroom attack on the comedian's accuser yesterday, branding her a con artist whose goal was "money, money and lots more money".

Tom Mesereau told jurors in his opening statement at the former TV star's sex assault trial that Andrea Constand was not attracted to Mr Cosby but was "madly in love" with his fame and money, and made up the accusations to score a big payday.

He said she "hit the jackpot" when Mr Cosby paid her $3.4m (€2.75m) to settle her lawsuit over allegations he drugged and molested her in 2004.

Aggravated

Prosecutors say it was the Cosby Show star who betrayed Ms Constand's trust by giving her pills and then violating her at his Philadelphia mansion.

Mr Cosby (80) faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A jury failed to reach a verdict at his first trial last spring, setting the stage for a retrial.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele revealed the previously secret settlement amount in his opening statement on Monday, in an apparent attempt to suggest Mr Cosby would not have paid out so much money if the accusations against him were false.

Mr Mesereau, who won an acquittal in Michael Jackson's 2005 child molestation case, told the jury instead that Ms Constand was in deep financial trouble and had pinned her hopes on milking her relationship with Mr Cosby.

Ms Constand racked up big credit card bills and operated a Ponzi scheme while running women's basketball operations at Temple University, where Mr Cosby was an alumnus and trustee, Mr Mesereau said.

He said Ms Constand went to Mr Cosby's home at least half-a-dozen times and sneaked into bed with him at a Connecticut casino.

"You're going to be wondering: What did she want from Bill Cosby?" Mr Mesereau said.

"You already know the answer: money, money and lots more money."

He said Ms Constand outlined her scheme to a Temple University colleague, Marguerite Jackson. The defence plans to call Ms Jackson as a witness, and Mr Mesereau said she will testify that Ms Constand - inspired by a story they saw on the news - mused about setting up a celebrity so she could sue and get money.

"A con artist is what you get, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. A con artist. And we'll prove it," the lawyer said.

Some 60 women have come forward with allegations against Mr Cosby dating to the 1960s. In a deposition he gave as part of Ms Constand's lawsuit, the long-married comedian acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

In the deposition, Mr Cosby said he gave Ms Constand three half-tablets of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl.

Prosecutors have suggested he gave her something stronger - perhaps quaaludes, a party drug that was banned in the US in 1982.

Prosecutors have lined up five additional accusers to make the case that the entertainer once revered as "America's Dad" lived a double life as one of Hollywood's biggest predators. Only one additional accuser took the stand at the first trial.

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