June 12, 2017 / 10:06 AM / 3 months ago

Jury begins deliberations in Bill Cosby sex assault trial

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (L) leaves with his spokesman Andrew Wyatt after a break in the deliberations in his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - Jurors began deliberating at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial on Monday after a weeklong proceeding in Pennsylvania that saw prosecutors and defense lawyers paint starkly different portraits of the once-beloved comedian.

The jury discussed the case for about four hours before adjourning at 9:30 p.m. (0130 GMT), after both sides delivered their closing arguments earlier in the day.

Montgomery District Attorney Kevin Steele told jurors Cosby’s own words, given to police and in a deposition more than a decade ago, show he ensnared Andrea Constand by posing as a trusted mentor before drugging and sexually assaulting her in his home in 2004.

“Ladies and gentlemen, he has told you what he has done,” he said. “It is about as straightforward as you are ever going to see in a sex crimes case.”

But defense lawyer Brian McMonagle said Constand’s inconsistent accounts, including her shifting estimate of when the incident occurred, revealed her to be a liar out for financial gain.

“She’d remember it for the next 365 days and all the days of her life if there were a sexual assault in this case,” he said in his own summation, as Cosby’s wife, Camille, sat in the courtroom for the first time since trial began.

Cosby, star of the 1980s hit family sitcom “The Cosby Show” and once a popular figure in television commercials, faces charges that he assaulted Constand, now 44, at his home in 2004. At the time, she was director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University.

Dozens of women have made similar accusations against Cosby, 79, although only Constand has accused him of a crime that allegedly took place recently enough to allow for prosecution.

Cosby, who did not testify, has denied all allegations.

Steele’s closing argument focused on Cosby’s statements in an interview with police and sworn depositions he gave as part of Constand’s civil lawsuit more than a decade ago.

Cosby acknowledged that he obtained Quaaludes, a prescription sedative, in the 1970s to give to young women.

Steele argued that admission showed Cosby was knowingly trying to incapacitate Constand when he gave her 1-1/2 pills, which Cosby said were Benadryl. Constand testified the pills left her disoriented and unable to resist him.

In his argument, McMonagle emphasized that Cosby consistently portrayed the encounter as consensual.

The defense lawyer also walked the jury through several discrepancies in Constand’s story. He noted she first told police that she cut off contact with Cosby after the incident but actually called him more than 50 times over two months.

“That’s a lie,” McMonagle told jurors. “It’s not a fib, it’s not a mistake. It’s a stone-cold lie.”

Constand testified last week that she made the calls because of her job at Temple, where Cosby was a trustee and a famous alumnus, and Steele noted the calls stopped as soon as she left the school.

McMonagle also questioned why Constand would continue spending time privately with Cosby even after he made sexual advances that she said she rebuffed.

Steele reminded jurors that a psychologist had testified that victims of sexual trauma often have trouble recalling every detail.

He said Constand was always clear on the key facts: Cosby gave her unidentified pills he suggested were herbal, and then sexually abused her.

Prosecutors also called a second accuser, Kelly Johnson, who told jurors that Cosby sexually assaulted her in a similar manner in 1996.

Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Trott

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