Cosby retrial won’t be like the first one
NEW YORK — When it begins Monday, Bill Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges will appear very similar in some respects to the first trial that ended nearly 10 months ago with a deadlocked jury. But it will be far from a rerun.
The courthouse in Norristown, Pa., will be the same. Andrea Constand, 44, will take the stand again to give her account of an encounter at Cosby’s home outside Philadelphia in 2004 that turned, she said, into a drugging and an act of molestation. And Cosby’s defense will still center on the argument that this was a consensual act.
But many other things about the second trial will be different, starting with how the prosecution will present its case.
At the first trial, just one other woman who said she was also drugged and assaulted by Cosby, 80, was allowed to testify in addition to Constand.
This time, Judge Steven T. O’Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas is allowing prosecutors to present the accounts of five additional women with similar accusations.
One of those accusers is scheduled to be Janice Dickinson, the onetime supermodel, who said Cosby had drugged and raped her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 1982. The four other “prior bad acts” witnesses were, at the time, aspiring actresses or models, and in one case a bartender, who say they were assaulted by Cosby between 1982 and 1989, all incidents he denies occurred.
O’Neill has not said why he has allowed more accusers this time. But analysts say the additional accusations will help bolster Constand’s credibility as just one of a line of women who say Cosby abused them.
She is the only woman whose complaint has resulted in criminal charges against the entertainer.
Perhaps nothing is as different from one trial to the next as the atmosphere in which it is unfolding. The Cosby case will be the first high-profile sex abuse trial to test what effect, if any, the MeToo movement has on jurors.
Some analysts think it may give jurors a greater willingness to believe people who come forward with accusations of sexual assault.
In another change, Cosby’s legal team called only a single defense witness at the first trial, a detective who testified for only six minutes. This time, it plans to call at least three witnesses.
The one that’s attracted most attention is Marguerite Jackson, 56, a Temple University academic adviser who says that Constand, who worked on the support staff for the women’s basketball team, once told her she could make money by falsely claiming that she had been molested by a prominent person.
O’Neill blocked Jackson’s testimony at the first trial after Constand said that she did not know her. But the judge allowed her testimony this time, and Cosby’s lawyers are expected to use her account to portray Constand as someone with a premeditated plan to siphon money from Cosby.