NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby paid former Temple employee Andrea Constand $3.36 million in a 2005 civil suit to silence sexual assault allegations.
The dollar amount for the civil suit’s settlement was under wraps until Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele included it in his opening statement at the first day of Cosby’s sexual assault retrial on Monday.
Steele released the amount and provided a timeline of events to the jury — Constand left Temple and approached police in 2005, and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office decided not to criminally charge Cosby. In 2015, a judge unsealed some of the details from Cosby’s civil suit, which led the DA’s office to reopen the case later that year.
He argued that this timeline proves Constand approached police before she was paid nearly $3.4 million in 2006. When the DA’s office reopened the case, she agreed to cooperate with the trial, Steele said.
To accommodate the jury, the defense will give its opening statement on Tuesday morning, which will last an hour, Los-Angeles-based attorney Tom Mesereau told the court.
Mesereau will likely use the settlement amount in his opening statement to paint Constand as a greedy liar.
Cosby’s defense is expected to call Marguerite Jackson, a current Temple employee, to testify that Constand told her she could falsely accuse a wealthy man of sexual assault to get money.
Jackson’s testimony was not allowed in Cosby’s first sexual assault trial in June 2017, which ended in a deadlocked jury, but O’Neill ruled to allow Jackson be called as a witness last month. Constand has denied ever knowing Jackson, a Boyer College of Music and Dance academic adviser.
At the time of the 2005 civil suit, Cosby was a trustee at Temple and represented by Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor. Details of deliberations between O’Connor and Cosby will not be released as evidence at trial, as per a ruling by Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill, but O’Connor could be called as a witness.
Steele introduced the power dynamic between Cosby and Constand at the time of the alleged assault in January 2004 in Cosby’s Montgomery County home: Cosby was a university trustee with a great interest in Temple’s basketball program. Constand was the director of operations for Temple’s women’s basketball team and played basketball herself.
“In this case, there will be evidence of a mentoring relationship that [Cosby] concedes he had with Andrea Constand,” Steele told the jury. “And in that mentoring relationship, that’s where the trust was built.”
His hour-long opening statement outlined the definitions of indecent aggravated assault — which includes drugging and forcibly touching Constand — of which Cosby is charged with three counts. He outlined how Cosby’s own words in a 2005 deposition and in recorded conversations with Constand’s mother, Gianna Constand, to prove that Cosby admitted his own guilt and knowledge to his alleged assault of Andrea Constand.
He also introduced to the jury what a common scheme, plan or design and absence of mistake is, which his team plans to use in arguments to prove Cosby had a specific plan to hurt women. The District Attorney’s office will call five women to the witness stand to prove this.
The five women have accusations that are similar to the ones Andrea Constand has brought against Cosby: They were mentored by Cosby for several weeks, then invited over to a setting he was familiar with and given wine or pills to relax. Then, they were suddenly paralyzed or unconscious and unable to consent.
Opening statements began after nearly six hours of delay to reinterview each of the jurors to address a motion filed by the defense Friday.
In this motion, it alleges that a potential juror overheard the seated juror No. 11 on Wednesday saying “I just think he’s guilty,” the Inquirer reported.
The jurors — seven men and five women — took the oath to be fair and impartial around 2:30 p.m. on Monday so the trial could finally be under way. One man and one woman is Black on the jury panel, making it the same racial and gender makeup as Cosby’s June trial. The six alternates – four men and two women, three of whom are Black — also took the oath.
After the six-hour-long delay, O’Neill said that all 12 jurors maintained that they can remain fair and impartial, but he had not yet issued a ruling on juror No. 11 at the end of the day on Monday. This juror remained seated and took an oath along with the rest of the panel.
Read more about the protests at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial
Outside the courthouse, however, protesters expressed their support for Andrea Constand and other Cosby accusers.
A topless woman painted with dozens of names of Cosby’s accusers was arrested outside as Cosby was arriving to the Montgomery County Courthouse. The 39-year-old woman Nicolle Rochelle from Little Falls, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after breaking through a barricade as Cosby entered the building.
Cosby’s retrial is expected to be a month long.
“We are very confident that you will be able to make the right decision,” Steele said to the jury, in closing of his opening statement. “We’re very confident that you all will be able to do justice in this case. We are very confident that you will convict the defendant on three counts of indecent aggravated assault for what he did to Andrea Constand in January 2004.”
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