NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—“She is not the con, he is.”
That was the message, over and over again, that prosecutors made Tuesday in their closing arguments in the Bill Cosby trial. Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the night he allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand. The arguments, made by prosecutors Kristen Feden and Stewart Ryan, were a mix of detailed examinations of the evidence and passionate defenses of all the women who came forward and the character assassinations they endured on the stand.
In her portion of the Commonwealth’s closing arguments, Feden gave a sweeping, emotional, and at times confrontational rebuttal for all the women who spoke out against Cosby. She repeatedly walked over toward Cosby and pointed at him with disgust in her face.
“This is his con, and he’s laughing like its funny but there is absolutely nothing funny about stripping a woman of her decency, incapacitating her to the point she could not consent,” Feden said loudly, pointing at the defendant. “There is nothing funny about that, Mr. Cosby.”
Camille Cosby, who had arrived in the morning and sat through closing arguments for the defense, was long gone. She was not in the courtroom for the prosecution’s case. But Constand was in the courtroom, sitting behind the table for prosecutors.
“He is nothing like the image he plays on TV and, in fact, he utilized that image and cloaked it around himself,” Feden said, “so that he was able to gain the trust and the confidence of these young, aspiring, unsuspecting women, to sexually assault them and strip them of their very autonomy.”
Feden specifically defended each woman who spoke, saying their names and calling out the various ways the defense had shamed them: Shaming them for having more than one sexual partner, shaming them for any past drug use, shaming them for not being perfect rape victims, and shaming them for being alone with a married men. As Feden said, “they should not be responsible for his sexuality.”
Why were the women’s characters attacked? The defense had to do that, Feden said, because the women’s stories corroborated each other and lent credibility to what Constand told police happened to her.
“Every single one of these women were subjected to vicious character assassinations. But that’s because when you piece it all together their corroboration, their scrapbook, all of that substantiated their account that the defendant drugged and sexually assaulted them,” Feden said.
Feden did little to hide how she felt about the defense tactics. Feden used a condescending tone as she said “Miss Bliss” before presenting a piece of evidence to rebuke the defense’s suggestion that publisher Judith Regan hadn’t believed Janice Dickinson’s account of being drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby.
“The character assassinations that Miss Bliss put those women through was utterly shameful, utterly shameful. And then she talks about women,” Feden said, referring back to Bliss’s portion of closing arguments. “She’s the exact reason why women and victims and men of sexual assault don’t report these crimes.” Feden later asked: “Why are they feeding into these rape myths?”
And those mistakes the women made? Feden did her best to say that, in no way, meant they weren’t victims.
“These are mistakes the women are going to have to live with the rest of their lives,” Feden said. “But it doesn’t give the defendant license to sexually assault them.”
As Feden laid out her case, she would include portions of Cosby’s testimony from his 2005 civil deposition on the screen, saying that Cosby’s own words were evidence against him. Feden went over all the ways Constand has been consistent over the years and, in regards to the one-year delay before calling law enforcement, she asked “Do you think a con person is going to wait a year?”
And Feden did not shy away from going into graphic detail about what Cosby is accused of doing, her voice sounding disturbed: “He was forceful penetrating this woman’s vagina, repeatedly. She couldn’t move. He groped her breasts.”
As she went over Constand’s testimony, Feden would refer back to their expert, Dr. Barbara Ziv, to show that Constand’s actions did make sense. Near the end, she put up on the screen this portion of the Cosby deposition:
Q: Did you ever know Andrea at any time to be untruthful?
After Feden’s portion, the jury got a short break before returning for the second half of the lengthy closing statement, which was done by Ryan. He opened up by talking about Constand—reminding jurors that she did not have to be here and did not have to cooperate with prosecutors. She did so, Ryan said, because she wanted justice. Ryan even snuck in an apology, noting, “we failed her in the first trial.”
Stewart’s portion was focused more on the physical evidence in the case, such as the phone calls, deposition, phone calls, and various interviews given by people. He brought up the case of Autumn Jackson, telling jurors that when Jackson tried to extort Cosby, the comedian didn’t settle with her—he reported Jackson to law enforcement. And Ryan rebutted the idea that the night with Constand fell outside the statute of limitations by flashing a portion from Cosby’s deposition, in which he said it happened in 2004. Constant’s phone calls to Cosby? Again, that was because of her job. They stop after she leaves Temple. And the settlement? That wasn’t about a shakedown, it was about keeping the deposition away from the light of day.
“The defendant paid more than $3 million dollars in hope the district attorney’s office would never hear those words,” Ryan said.
During Stewart’s closings, Mesereau at one point made four objections practically back to back. That was on top of several made earlier by Bliss. Judge O’Neill, sounding frustrated, told Mesereau they would handle those when the arguments were over.
Stewart also handled the task of calling into question the testimony of Marguerite “Margo” Jackson, who testified that Constand had told her during a road trip for Temple women’s basketball that Constand could make up a sexual-assault claim against a famous person for money. He reminded jurors that Temple expense reports didn’t show Margo Jackson traveling with the team in 2004, and questioned how her more recent statement included money after meeting with Cosby’s new defense team. He called her statement to Cosby’s defense team “a fictional conversation, much like the rest of Miss Jackson’s testimony of what what Andrea Constand told her.”
The prosecution also pointed out, again, that it was Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt who read Margo Jackson’s name from the courthouse steps, not them, in regards to Margo Jackson’s testimony that her privacy was gone. When Ryan mentioned Wyatt, Wyatt smiled and seemed to faintly chuckle. Ryan also brought up that Jackson had, a few months afterward, started a music promotion business, saying “I’m sure it was very difficult.”
Ryan closed telling jurors that they had a one thing to do.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice,” Ryan said, “is over.”