April 18, 2018 / 7:56 AM / 6 months ago

Cosby defense witness says accuser talked of framing a celebrity

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - Bill Cosby’s star defense witness testified on Wednesday that the woman who has accused him of sexual assault once told her how easy it would be to fabricate an accusation of sexual assault against a celebrity to make money.

Bill Cosby walks with publicist Ebonee Benson during a break in his sexual assault retrial case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 18, 2018. Corey Perrine/Pool via Reuters

Marguerite Jackson, an academic adviser at Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater, said the accuser, Andrea Constand, made the remark while they were on a road trip by Temple’s women’s basketball team in Rhode Island. Constand was once director of operations for the team.

“She had said it didn’t happen,” Jackson told the Montgomery Country court.

Constand on Monday in court denied ever knowing Jackson, rooming with her or ever speaking to her.

Marguerite Jackson, a key defensive witness, walks into courtroom A after a break in the Bill Cosby sexual assault retrial case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 18, 2018. Corey Perrine/Pool via Reuters

Cosby, best known as the star of the 1980s TV hit “The Cosby Show,” is facing a retrial in a Pennsylvania court on charges of drugging and assaulting Constand at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. The jury in the first trial last year failed to reach a verdict.

Constand is one of about 50 women who have accused him of assaults dating back decades. Hers is the only case recent enough to be the subject of criminal prosecution. Cosby, 80, has said the sexual contact with Constand was consensual and he has denied the other women’s accounts.

He could face 10 years in prison if convicted. Other women have filed civil lawsuits against him for defamation and assault.

Cosby paid Constand $3.38 million to settle a civil lawsuit she filed after Pennsylvania prosecutors in 2005 initially declined to charge Cosby for the alleged assault.

Five of Cosby’s other accusers have testified in this trial.

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Jackson told the jury on Wednesday that she remembered the conversation with Constand in their hotel room in 2005 when the story broke in 2016 that Cosby had been accused of assault.

“The conversation we had came back to me,” she said.

During cross-examination, assistant district attorney M. Stewart Ryan questioned Jackson about two sworn statements she gave about the incident, including one in 2016, after Cosby had been charged. In that statement Jackson said she met a comedian on a cruise ship who told her about the accusations against Cosby.

Ryan asked why the story was in her second statement and not in the first. Jackson said she sat with Cosby’s lawyer Kathleen Bliss to prepare the new statement, which included details that differed in part from the original statement.

Defense attorneys on Monday sought to undercut Constand’s credibility, pressing her about accusations that she had schemed to plant a false story of abuse to reap hush money.

Book publisher Judith Regan is expected to be the final prosecution witness. She is expected to buttress testimony last week by model Janice Dickinson that Cosby drugged and raped her and a book about her that was referenced in testimony.

Reporting by David DeKok; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Leslie Adler

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