Bill Cosby defense witness stumbles in explaining discrepancies in testimony
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images(NORRISTOWN, Pa.) — The star witness for Bill Cosby’s legal team was undermined during cross-examination on Wednesday when she conceded that her testimony differed from previous statements she gave defense attorneys, and said she and one of the comedian’s lawyers “kind of created it together.”
Shortly after the prosecution rested its case in the retrial of the 80-year-old Cosby on sexual assault charges, Marguerite “Margo” Jackson took the witness stand for the defense.
In his opening argument, lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau told the Montgomery County jury in Norristown, Pennsylvania, that Jackson would bolster his contention that Cosby’s main accuser, Andrea Constand, is a “con artist” who set up a “lonely man” with false accusations of being drugged and assaulted.
Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in early 2004. His first trial ended in a mistrial in June when a jury couldn’t reach a verdict.
The married Cosby has adamantly denied ever drugging or molesting anyone, and has said his relationship with Constand was consensual.
Constand settled a civil case against Cosby in 2005 for $3.38 million, but the man known once as “America’s dad” did not admit wrongdoing in the case.
During direct questioning from Cosby’s attorney on Wednesday, Jackson recalled a conversation she had in 2004, in which she said Constand allegedly mused about framing an unnamed celebrity for money.
Jackson is a veteran Temple University employee and was an academic adviser to the school’s women’s basketball team when Constand was the team’s director of operations.
She said she and Constand roomed together when the basketball team was playing on the road.
Jackson recalled that she and Constand were sharing a room at a Rhode Island hotel on Feb. 1, 2004, when a TV news report came on about a “high-profile celebrity essentially assaulting women.” She said Constand told her “something similar had happened to her.”
Jackson said she replied, “Really? Who and when?” She said she asked Constand whether she had reported the alleged assault.
“She said ‘No,'” Jackson testified. “I said, ‘Why?’ She was, like, ‘Because I couldn’t prove it.'”
Jackson said she pressed Constand about the assault, saying, “I wouldn’t care who it was. I would report it. Why didn’t you report it?”
She said Constand, 44, allegedly replied, “Because it’s a high-profile figure, and you can’t fight that.”
“This is a civil case,” Jackson said she told Constand. “It’s about money. Money is a great motivator.”
Jackson said she asked Constand again whether the assault actually happened, to which Constand allegedly responded, “I could say it did. I could say it happened, get that money. I could quit my job and go back to school. I could open up a business.”
But under cross-examination, Jackson was grilled by Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Stewart Ryan about why her testimony differed in key areas from a statement she provided Cosby’s previous defense team in 2016 and one she gave Cosby’s new lawyers in January.
In one discrepancy, Jackson testified Wednesday that her conversation with Constand occurred during one of “probably two or three times” the pair roomed together during Temple basketball away games. In her earlier statements, she said the pair roomed together six times.
Constand testified on Monday that she barely knew Jackson and never roomed with her, but rather had her own hotel room during away games.
There was no mention in Jackson’s 2016 statement about Constand allegedly claiming to be unable to prove the assault allegations in court, and Jackson said at the time that she could not recall the year of the alleged conversation. In the second statement she gave Cosby’s defense team earlier this year, there was no reference to a date or year of the alleged conversation.
Ryan pointed out yet another difference between her testimony and her earlier statements to the defense.
“You add that it’s your memory now that Ms. Constand didn’t report it because it was a high-profile person and because she couldn’t prove it?” Ryan asked her. “That’s new — that she said she couldn’t prove it?”
“Correct,” a sullen Jackson replied.
When asked by Ryan who decided to add that, Jackson said one of Cosby’s attorneys, Kathleen Bliss, worked closely with her.
“We sat down and reviewed the statement, and she just broke it down and made it specific,” Jackson testified. “We kind of created it together. She wanted to break it down more.”
Asked whose decision it was to use quotation marks around crucial parts of what Constand told her in the hotel room where there were none in the first statement, Jackson said “Kathleen put the quotation marks in.”
Jackson was not allowed to testify in Cosby’s first trial because a judge ruled her initial statement submitted to the court by Cosby’s first legal team as hearsay. But the judge changed course this time around and allowed her to testify for the defense.
If convicted, Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. Cosby has denied all the allegations against him.
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