PHILADELPHIA (CBSLA.com/AP) — A sexual assault trial begins Monday against actor and comedian Bill Cosby, who was once dubbed “America’s Dad.”
The case against Cosby, involving former Temple University basketball staffer Andrea Constand, 44, of Toronto, is the only one to come to light within the statute of limitations. Dozens of women came forward to say the once-beloved comedian drugged and assaulted them following the 2015 unsealing of a deposition revealed a long history of sexual liaisons.
Cosby arrived at the courthouse Monday with “The Cosby Show” co-star Keshia Knight Pulliam at his elbow.
Constand filed a police complaint in 2005 over the night a year earlier, when, she says, Cosby drugged and molested her at his estate near Philadelphia.
Cosby had beaten back rumors about his conduct before, at least once by giving an exclusive interview to a tabloid to squelch a woman’s story.
Cosby and his agents offered Constand money for school when her mother, Gianna, called to confront him in January 2006.
“She said your apology is enough,” Cosby later said in a deposition. “There’s nothing you can do.”
Constand’s complaint was referred to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where the district attorney found the case to be too weak to prosecute.
Constand instead sued Cosby for sexual battery. Thirteen women signed on to support her lawsuit, saying Cosby also had molested them. But Cosby avoided a trial — after giving four days of deposition testimony — by negotiating a confidential settlement with Constand in 2006.
The issue died down until 2014, when comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby out as a rapist, leading dozens of new accusers to come forward. Months later, a federal judge granted an Associated Press motion to unseal parts of his deposition.
In one of the more explosive revelations, Cosby said he had gotten quaaludes in the 1970s to give women before sex. The news put a halt to his planned TV comeback and led networks to stop airing Cosby reruns.
Cosby’s lawyers have spent the past 18 months trying to have the criminal case thrown out. They say Cosby testified only after being promised he could never be charged. And they argue the delayed prosecution makes the case impossible to defend, given that witnesses have died, memories have faded and Cosby, they say, is blind.
Lead defense lawyer Brian McMonagle hopes to call a memory expert to challenge accusations he calls “nothing more than vague recollections.”
District Attorney Kevin Steele will be allowed to call one other accuser to suggest Cosby’s conduct with Constand was part of a “signature” crime pattern. She worked for Cosby’s agent at the William Morris Agency and says Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1996 at a Los Angeles hotel.
Cosby and his family, ahead of the trial, have suggested the charges are fueled by racism. Some of his accusers, including the former William Morris employee, are black.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)