By David DeKok
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – Evidence of being a serial rapist finally caught up with Bill Cosby after decades of assaulting women and hiding behind his kindly television persona, prosecutors told a Pennsylvania jury on Tuesday in closing arguments of his sexual assault trial.
“The defendant spent years and years and years building up a bank of trust. He used it every time he sexually assaulted one of his victims,” Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Stewart Ryan told the jury. “The time for the defendant to escape justice is over.”
With evidence and closing arguments concluded, the jury of seven men and five women was due to begin deliberations on Wednesday to decide whether to convict Cosby, 80, on trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, 45, at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.
In his first trial last year, 12 different jurors deliberated five and a half days before declaring themselves deadlocked.
Some 50 women have accused Cosby, the once-beloved comedian and TV dad, of sexual assault going back decades, but only Constand’s case was recent enough to be prosecuted.
Cosby has denied wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact was consensual.
Last time only Constand and one other accuser were allowed to testify. In this trial, five other women took the stand, each saying they, like Constand, had been drugged and violated by the man who played the genial Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s.
In their closing arguments, defense lawyers attacked the credibility of women who testified against him, drawing a stern rebuke from prosecutors who said such shaming of victims was the reason women do not report sex crimes.
Defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau labeled Constand “a pathological liar” and reminded the jury she continued to call Cosby after the alleged assault. He declared Cosby “must be acquitted on all counts.”
Co-counsel Kathleen Bliss then assailed the five other accusers who testified, saying they fabricated stories in search of money and fame.
“What is this case about? Money, press conferences, TV shows, salacious coverage, ratings. Sex sells,” Bliss said.
When the prosecution got its opportunity, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden turned attention not just to Cosby but also to Bliss, calling the defense lawyer’s attack on the accusers “shameful, utterly shameful.”
His wife of more than 50 years, Camille Cosby, attended court for the first time since the trial began on April 9, watching the defense summation. Constand was there to see the prosecution closing statement.
(Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta; editing by Cynthia Osterman and James Dalgleish)