Bill Cosby’s defense team kicked off their case in a big way today by calling their star witness, Marguerite “Margo” Jackson. Jackson, a Temple University employee that worked with Andrea Constand, took the stand to accuse Constand, the woman at the center of this controversial case, of being driven by greed when she accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
“[Constand] said it did not happen,” Jackson said today at the Montgomery County Courthouse. She told the jury that Constand revealed to her during a work trip to Rhode Island that she wanted to frame a celebrity simply to get enough money to go back to school and maybe start a business.
Constand, who testified on the witness stand for two days, said she did not recall rooming with Jackson, and denied ever having a conversation with her about Cosby.
Jackson, who has worked at Temple for three decades, said Constand specifically told her, “I could quit my job … I would get that money.” When Jackson pressed Constand about whether anything actually happened of a sexual nature with Cosby, she said that Constand flatly denied it.
Jackson’s stunning accusations fall right in line with the defense’s efforts to paint Constand as someone seeking fame and fortune from Cosby, a celebrity she met on the job at his alma mater. As proof to this theory the defense has repeatedly pointed to Constand accepting a $3.4 million settlement from the entertainer.
The biggest question, of course, is what impact Jackson’s testimony could have on the jury, 12 men and women who have endured more than a week of graphic testimony from five different women who have accused Cosby of drugging and raping them over the past 30 years.
In an attempt to undermine Jackson’s credibility, which could call into question the state’s entire case, prosecutors will likely hone in on how the defense witness met Cosby. According to Jackson, she actually met Cosby on a cruise ship in 2016, just one year before his first trial. She said that Cosby offered to buy her a drink after his performance, joking, “I won’t put anything in it,” she said.
Jackson said the encounter led them to discuss their mutual relationship with Temple (she as an employee and he as a longtime trustee). Jackson said this is when she revealed to Cosby that she knew Constand and that she did not believe the accusations she was making. Cosby subsequently put his defense team in touch with Jackson, though, interestingly, she was not permitted to testify in the first trial after Constand said she did not know her.
The prosecution spent much of its time today pointing out any possible inconsistencies in Jackson’s story, specifically focusing on expense reports for travel that seem to contradict when Jackson said she was on the road with Constand. Another issue the prosecution honed in on: Jackson’s first statement to investigators, which never mentioned anything about Constand wanting money. Assistant D.A. Stewart Ryan seemed to be suggesting that her story “evolved” to meet the needs of the defense.
Jackson’s name first went public last year after Cosby’s publicist Andrew Wyatt mentioned her as a potential witness during the first trial that ended in a hung jury. Shortly after Wyatt’s press conference on the courthouse steps, Jackson launched her own music-promotion business.
Defense attorney Kathleen Bliss pointedly asked Jackson, “Are you being paid for your testimony?”
“No,” Jackson replied.
“Has anyone asked you to say certain things?” Bliss asked.
“No,” Jackson said.
Cosby has denied all accusations against him. He has called his relationship with Constand “consensual” during a statement to investigators in 2005.