Defense portrays Bill Cosby as a victim

Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial with his wife Camille Cosby at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Monday, June 12, 2017. (Associated Press)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby did not assault Andrea Constand but instead is a victim of a crusade, lawyers for the entertainer argued Monday after calling a single witness and resting their case. As expected, Cosby chose not to testify.


Cosby and Constand were simply a couple, with no assault occurring the night of their encounter in January 2004, lead Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle told jurors. “‘Yeah, it was romantic; yeah, he was giving me sweaters; yeah, he was telling me how to wear my hair,’” he said, mimicking Constand’s voice, as he made the closing argument in Cosby’s criminal trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

“Just tell the truth — what are we doing here?” he continued, one of many exclamations he made in a fiery and at times histrionic closing that lasted nearly two hours.

McMonagle did not spend much time discussing the night of the alleged incident at Cosby’s home, in which the entertainer gave Constand 1 1/2 pills he contended were Benadryl and then digitally penetrated her. Instead he focused on the larger relationship and how that could not have been the context for an assault.

Victims rights groups have said Constand is a flashpoint for a larger cause but that it does not diminish her case. McMonagle, however, said that activism had overshadowed the facts.

“We know why we’re here. Let’s be real. Let’s look each other in the eye and talk about why we’re here. We’re not here because of Andrea Constand,” he said. “We’re here because of them,” turning and pointing his finger at a group of accusers and activists sitting in the back of the courtroom.

“Bang the drum, let’s bang the drum,” he continued theatrically as he pounded the top of a chair in rhythm. “All right, you want to bang it, we’re going to bang it.”

McMonagle offered a narrative in which Constand had a consensual encounter and was not planning on making a charge — indeed, she had been contacting Cosby, the attorney said, to continue their relationship. But, he went on, her communications with civil lawyers Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz was the start of a narrative in which she would create an allegation after the fact.

“It’s sickening what happens when lawyers get involved,” he said. “It’s sickening what’s happening here.”

He said Constand was tailoring her story to fit a pre-ordained narrative and was continuing to do so even now, citing a detail from her testimony about the consumption of the pills that she had never mentioned before.

McMonagle made full use of the courtroom as he made his presentation. He paced, he gestured, he leaned forward, he whipped his head around in disbelief. At one point he stood at the witness box and rested his head in his hand; another time he crouched down and got very close to Cosby’s face as he made a point.

He went through a number of inconsistencies about the date of the alleged attack, which in Constand’s initial police interview had been in March 2004, and later was revised to two months earlier. He also noted the many times she had called Cosby after the alleged attack. “Why can’t people tell the truth in this?” he said.

Cosby leaned forward in his chair for most of the defense’s closing, occasionally reacting with small nods. Constand sat in the front row of the gallery next to her mother, Gianna Constand, showing little expression. The prosecution was scheduled to give its closing after a lunch break.

The closing arguments came about quickly Monday after the defense began and closed its case in one morning. Lawyers for Cosby called just one witness, the Montgomery County detective Richard Schaffer, whom the prosecution had called last week as its witness, to ask some follow-up questions. Cosby, as expected, waived his right to testify.

In the closing, McMonagle also sought to dismiss Cosby’s attempts to pay Constand’s tuition not as an attempt to buy her silence for a criminal act but a way to avoid a confrontation with his longtime wife, Camille.

“When you dance outside of your marriage, you gotta pay the band,” he said. “And he danced and she deserved better,” he said pointing to Camille, who had joined her husband in court for the first time this trial.

The lawyer wound down by saying that while Cosby was “not perfect,” what was happening was an injustice.

“I’m going to go home and tell my wife ‘I spent my day trying to right a terrible wrong,’” he said to the jury. “What are you going to say?”