Music & Memories

Cosby's fate rests with jury in sex trial

bill cosby

A Pennsylvania jury has begun its first full day of deliberations in the trial of entertainer Bill Cosby, who is accused of sexually assaulting a female friend who had come to him for career advice in 2004.

Cosby, best known for his role as the dad in the 1980s hit family TV comedy The Cosby Show, was charged in 2015 with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his home in the Philadelphia suburbs, just days before the statute of limitations was to run out.

Constand is one of dozens of women to have accused Cosby of sex abuse, often after plying them with drugs, in a series of incidents dating to the 1960s. The allegation by Constand, a former administrator at Cosby's alma mater, Temple University, is the only one not too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.

Constand, now 44, was the prosecution's star witness in the week-long trial in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown, testifying that Cosby gave her pills that left her unable to respond when he sexually assaulted her. Another witness, Kelly Johnson, testified that she was the victim of a similar attack by the comedian in 1996.

Cosby, 79, whose long career was based on a family-friendly comedy style, did not testify. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and described his encounters with Constand as consensual.

In his closing argument on Monday, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Cosby's words incriminated him, noting that the defendant acknowledged apologising to Constand and her mother and offering to pay for Constand's schooling after her mother confronted him.

He also focused on Cosby's admission that he told Constand the pills were her "friends" that would help her "relax" but did not inform her what they were.

Since beginning deliberations, jurors have asked to hear some of Cosby's prior statements, including his description of the pills he gave Constand prior to the alleged attack.

Defence attorney Brian McMonagle in his closing statement said Cosby was guilty of adultery, which is not a crime, but not sexual assault. Among those listening was Camille Cosby, 73, his wife of 50 years and business manager. She came to the courtroom for the first time on Monday.

The defence has focused on inconsistencies in Constand's statements about the timing of the alleged assault, pointing out that she remained in contact with Cosby for weeks after the night in question.

Cosby's attorneys sought to portray her as a woman whose allegations were motivated by money. She settled a 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby for an undisclosed sum, though jurors did not hear about that case.

Cosby still faces multiple civil lawsuits by other accusers.

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Image: AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Pool