NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—Almost nobody was spared in the Bill Cosby defense team’s scorched-earth closing arguments. They attacked the accuser, Andrea Constand; her mother, Gianna; law enforcement; all five women who also testified saying Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them; and even some unnamed “movement” that sure sounded like #MeToo but was never specified. The only person spared—in fact, held up as something close to sainthood—was their star witness. To hear the defense team tell it, almost every person who testified is either a liar or a schemer or a slut—except for Marguerite “Margo” Jackson, who testified that Constand once told her she could make up a fake sexual-assault claim for money against a famous person.
The day started, like in the last trial, with an appearance by Cosby’s wife for closing statements. Camille Cosby and her husband walked into the courthouse together, but they entered the courtroom separately. He came first, and Camille Cosby after, smiling, escorted by by Cosby’s PR team. Camille Cosby walked up to her husband, had a short exchange with him, and they kissed. Then she took a seat in the first row behind the table of defense lawyers.
The defense team split their closing arguments, First, came a broad overview from lawyer Kathleen Bliss, who did all the attacks except those on Andrea Consatnd. After about 50 minutes, defense lawyer Tom Mesereau took over, going over in detail the defense’s argument that Andrea Constand is a liar who just wanted money. He called the settlement with Cosby, “one of the biggest highway robberies of all time. Mr. Cosby got conned, big time.”
Here’s a rundown of the various ways the defense team attacked the credibility of those who testified for the prosecution:
Bliss said Gianna Constand was “either an angry mother or a co-scammer.” She also called Gianna Constand “evasive” and “phony” for not telling people she had recorded their phone calls Bliss called back to the sound of Gianna Constand’s voice in her recorded phone call with Cosby, questioning why Gianna Constand sounded so polite on the phone.
“Listen to that tone of voice. It’s sweet. It’s the kind of voice that wants concert tickets. Is it really the voice of someone who tells you from the stand that she was so angry the day before that her eyeballs were going to explode,” Bliss said. “It’s like Dr. Jeckyl and Mrs. Hyde.”
Cosby was worried about extortion, Bliss said, and Gianna Constand proved those fears right.
“Mr. Cosby stopped calling Andrea,” Bliss said, “and she was going to make him pay for it.”
The other five women who testified against Cosby
Bliss referred to them as “the cast of five accusers” before taking on each one individually.
Heidi Thomas was just a woman with a bizarre story finally getting her shot at fame. “She wanted to be a star,” Bliss said, “and she’s living the dream now.”
Chelan Lasha “has been convicted of lying to the police and giving false information,” Bliss told jurors. She called Lasha’s actions in the first few days after what happened with Cosby “an interesting victim response… but she did go on Dateline.”
Janice Baker-Kinney was labeled a “party girl” by Bliss, who then attacked Baker-Kinney’s morals.
“Where is her morality? Seriously ladies and gentlemen. Where are her values? Where is a little personal responsibility. I got f-d up and slept with Mr. Cosby. Yes, she’s regretting it now,” Bliss said. “But it’s no basis for regrets now, about clearly a one-night stand, to march into this courtroom and tell you she was sexually assaulted then.”
On Janice Dickinson, Bliss said, “Where do I start?” Who is she, the lawyer asked, before launching into an answer: “A failed starlet, she’s an-aged out model. She sold a lot of books in her time. Sex sells... It sounds as if she slept with every single man on the planet.”
Bliss went further a few moments later: “The woman who has to do a paternity test with Sylvester Stalone and some other guy. Rocky’s just a contender. Is Miss Dickinson really the moral beacon that the women’s movement wants?”
Lise-Lotte Lublin was impossible to believe, Bliss said, because “she can’t even tell you if something happened, she just wants to be a part of it.”
And all these women, Bliss said, were out for money that they would never share with the “real” victims in hospitals and shelters.
“You think these people are going to give a dime to the silent ones who hide in fear of violence? No,” Bliss said. “There’s no money in that.”
An unnamed “movement”
Bliss started out here by saying that “we do have to deal with sexual assault” before launching into this soliloquy:
“Questioning an accuser is not shaming a victim. Gut feelings are not rational decisions. Mob rule is not due process and just as we have had horrible, horrible crimes in our history. We’ve also had horrible, horrible period of time where emotion and hatred and fear overwhelmed us. Witch hunts. Lynchings. McCarthyism. When you join a movement, based primary on emotions and anger, you don’t change a damn thing. Which is why each single case much be examined on its merits. All of the evidence must be weighed and the bottom line here is, if you don’t believe Andrea Constand you must acquit Mr Cosby.”
Both Bliss and Mesereau talked, over and over, about how no charges were filed the first time Andrea Constand went to police. Bliss also questioned the thoroughness of the more recent Cosby investigation, saying the Commonwealth didn’t do enough to talk to their star witness, Jackson
“Who cares about checking out to see who is telling the truth and who is not. That should make you shudder to your bones,” Bliss said. “Do you want a criminal justice system like that?”
The prosecution’s expert on how sexual-assault victims behave
Bliss said this about the testimony of Dr. Barbara Ziv, who talked about the behavior of sexual-assault victims and myths about rape.
“We are not snowflakes. We are not not delicate flowers, so this rape myth that someone like Dr. Ziv would ask you to buy into with a ‘If she says X it’s rape. If she says Y it’s rape. If she says Z it’s rape’... As women, we don’t abandon facts or science or truth. As men and women, we reject gossip and speculation and false premises. That’s what makes for a strong and stable society. This is what makes for due process. That is what makes for an effective criminal justice system. Otherwise, it fails all of us.”
After Bliss was done, which took about 50 minutes, Mesereau spent more than an hour going over dozens of phones calls and minute details about Cosby’s travel logs for January. The thrust was that no sexual-assault victim would make as many phone calls as Constand, this was an elaborate shakedown for money, and whatever did happen between them occurred in December, outside the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. At times, his closing arguments included a slide that listed what he called all her lies.
A sampling of things Mesereau said about Constand:
“One of the biggest highway robberies of all time. Mr. Cosby got conned, big time.”
“You’re dealing with a pathological liar, members of the jury. You are!”
“She’s always passing the buck. She always has someone else to blame.”
“The problem here is there are so many big lies, they get lost. The number of these lies start to drown others out to the point where people trying to defend these lies start calling them a very convent term—inconsistencies. They aren’t inconsistencies. They’re lies.”
“It was highway robbery because that’s who she is. From Marguerite Jackson all the way through the settlement, that’s who she is. That’s who this person is, there’s no doubt about it.”
“Margo Jackson is her worst nightmare… if you believe Margo Jackson, this is over.”
Margo Jackson and Pamela Gray-Young
Bliss opened up talking about Jackson, building her up as a pilar of dignity who “came in to right a wrong” and must be believed over everyone else who spoke. Jackson testified that she was Constand’s roommate during a Temple women’s basketball road trip when Constand told her she could make up a sexual-assault claim against a famous person for money.
“Who are you going to believe? Are you going to believe a mature, dignified woman who takes the stand and gives you specific details that do not change or someone who gives inconsistent statements one after the other after another after another,” Bliss said. “Who are you going to believe? A well-educated, master’s-degree woman who works at Temple who counsels students, who has a background in psychology. Or a woman who’s briefly at Temple running a pyramid scheme at the same time. Who are you going to believe? A woman who has been there for three decades, Margo Jackson, or Andrea Constand, who is scamming for other jobs.”
Mesereau would later mention Pamela Gray-Young, who had testified that the director of women’s basketball operations at Temple would sometimes have a roommate when traveling. Constand said she never had a roommate when she travels with Temple basketball.
Mesereau closed the statements, shortly after noon. Then the jury took a lunch break.
“He made some mistakes for sure,” Mesesreau said at the every end. “But he is no criminal.”
Prosecutors will make their case next later on this afternoon.