Bill Cosby’s Defense Shocks the Court by Resting Case

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Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Bill Cosby and his wife of more than 50 years walked into the Montgomery County Courthouse arm in arm this morning, smiling as they breezed by reporters and curious bystanders. It was the first time Camille Cosby had showed up to her famous husband’s sexual-assault trial since it began last Monday in suburban Philadelphia. Today was anticipated to be the beginning of a long week for the couple — presumably a week of witness after witness taking the stand — but Cosby’s attorneys shocked everyone by resting their case on the same day opening arguments began.

The defense called just one witness this morning, Detective Richard Schaffer, a veteran officer with the Cheltenham Police Department, who took the stand for less than five minutes to answer questions about Andrea Constand, the woman at the center of the allegations against Cosby.

Schaffer, who’s been investigating the case for the past few years, primarily answered questions about Constand’s testimony, namely details she first provided investigators about the night she says the former TV dad drugged and sexually assaulted her. The defense honed in on inconsistencies between the initial police reports and Constand’s testimony last week, namely that she misstated the date of the alleged assault in Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home.

Counting on Constand’s error to discredit the 12 witnesses called by the prosecution during six days — witnesses that included Constand, her mother, her former neighbor, and a powerhouse psychologist specializing in sex crimes — the defense is hoping it’s enough to vindicate Cosby of the only assault charge he faces, even after dozens of other women have gone public with similar accusations involving both pills and rape. (On Friday, Victoria Valentino talked exclusively to Vulture about the night she says Cosby drugged and raped her in Los Angeles in 1969. She’s been attending the trial ever since it began last week.)

The big question is whether the defense has offered enough to paint Cosby as the kindhearted mentor who had a consensual relationship with the much younger woman who was out to destroy him, or if the prosecution succeeded in establishing Cosby as a calculated predator who used intoxicants to have sex with a woman who refused his advances twice before. It’s a classic he said, she said.

But why didn’t the defense call more character witnesses, perhaps a few big-name celebrities who have come out publicly to support Cosby? It wasn’t for lack of trying. Cosby’s attorneys had actually planned to call at least one other witness today, a woman who worked with Constand at Temple, the university where she was employed as a women’s sports director when Cosby, an alumnus, belonged to the board of trustees. Unfortunately for the defense, the judge blocked the witness, citing the state of Pennsylvania’s rape-shield law that precludes any mention whatsoever of an alleged victim’s sexual history.

One can assume from the ruling that the defense likely wanted to delve into 44-year-old Constand’s sexuality, namely that she was a lesbian who somehow misled the 79-year-old entertainer. It was a controversial move that ultimately backfired when prosecutors hit back, calling it “victim shaming.” Even Constand’s former civil attorney, Dolores Troiani, told the media last week she was shocked by the callous attempt to bring up her client’s sexual orientation to discredit her.

The jury, as it turned out, would hear none of it. In fact, even before they filed into the courtroom today, Judge Steven O’Neill asked Cosby if he agreed with his defense team’s decision to not call any additional witnesses and to ultimately not call him to the stand to tell his story.

“Correct,” Cosby said.

It was virtually the only time the court has heard the comedian’s voice since the prosecution began presenting its case one week earlier. And while it took the prosecutors until Friday to rest, the defense did so in less than a few minutes, save the rigorous closing statements that are bucking up against the usual lunchtime break. As such, the only perspective the court heard from Cosby at all during the trial was by way of sworn statements he gave to investigators in his lawyer’s New York City office years ago.

All told, the prosecution called a total of 12 witnesses in six days to the defense’s one. And depending on what happens in the next hour — whether closing arguments persist or whether both sides conclude — the jury could begin deliberating as early as this afternoon.

Bill Cosby’s Defense Shocks the Court by Resting Case