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Judge rules jury can hear Bill Cosby’s prior testimony about quaaludes

Bill Cosby, centre, and his spokesman Andrew Wyatt, right, proceed toward the courtroom at the Montgomery County Courthouse, in Norristown, Pa., on April 17, 2018.

Jessica Griffin/The Associated Press

Bill Cosby’s own words from 2005 might have undercut his defence on sexual-assault charges.

Prosecutors on Tuesday sought to maximize the impact of Mr. Cosby’s graphic deposition, in which he testified about his sexual encounter with chief accuser Andrea Constand and acknowledged apologizing to her mother a year later “because I’m thinking this is a dirty old man with a young girl.”

Mr. Cosby, 80, testified more than a dozen years ago as part of a civil lawsuit that Ms. Constand filed against him, and prosecutors won the right to introduce it at his sexual-assault retrial on charges he drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home.

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In a transcript read to the jury, Mr. Cosby testified he believed the encounter was in 2004, undermining his defence team’s assertion that it had to have been earlier and thus outside the criminal statute of limitations. Mr. Cosby was charged in late 2015.

Mr. Cosby also testified he didn’t think Ms. Constand had come forward to collect a big payday. But his defence team has called Ms. Constand a “con artist” who set him up by levelling false accusations of sexual assault.

Montgomery County Detective James Reape, who has been working on the Cosby investigation since it was reopened in 2015, told jurors he wasn’t concerned about inconsistencies in Ms. Constand’s story, such as her early uncertainty over the date of the alleged assault, because Mr. Cosby’s testimony had filled in many of the blanks.

“The defendant said it happened. The defendant said it happened in 2004. The defendant said he was present. The defendant admitted to the contact that she said happened,” Mr. Reape told jurors. “When I look at who, what, when, where, why in 2015, I’m able to see the answers.”

Mr. Reape made clear what he thinks of Mr. Cosby: “I have strong beliefs that he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand.”

Mr. Cosby says the encounter with Ms. Constand was consensual.

As prosecutors approached the end of their case, jurors were expected to hear more from the deposition on Wednesday, including Mr. Cosby’s explosive testimony about how he gave quaaludes to women before sex.

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The unsealing of the deposition, at the request of the Associated Press, led prosecutors to reopen Mr. Cosby’s criminal case and shredded his good-guy persona as America’s Dad.

Jurors got a sense of Mr. Cosby’s view of consent when the comedian described in the deposition reaching an area “somewhere between permission and rejection” during what he claims was a prior sexual encounter with Ms. Constand.

“I’m giving Andrea time to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about an area that is right there in the question zone,” Mr. Cosby testified.

He said he rubbed the skin above her trousers and “without talking I’m asking can I go farther.

“I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything,” Mr. Cosby testified in the deposition. “And so I continue, and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”

He then described the purported encounter in extremely graphic terms that had several jurors with their hands to their chins, some of them looking taken aback, pained or disgusted.

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Ms. Constand has testified she rejected Mr. Cosby’s prior advances.

Judge Steven O’Neill ruled on Tuesday that prosecutors could have the Cosby Show star’s deposition testimony read into the record, handing the prosecution a key victory in its effort to portray the comedian as a serial predator.

The deposition also was included at Mr. Cosby’s first trial, which ended with a hung jury last year.

Prosecutors used another of Mr. Cosby’s statements, one he gave to police in 2005, to show how he described the encounter for which he is facing aggravated indecent assault charges that could send him to prison for years.

Mr. Cosby said he gave Ms. Constand 1 1/2 tablets of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to help her relax, then fondled her breasts and genitals, according to the police transcript, which also was read to the jury on Tuesday.

Mr. Cosby said Ms. Constand never told him to stop.

“We are petting. I enjoyed it,” the TV star said, according to the transcript. “And then I stopped, and I went up to bed. We stopped, and then we talked.”

Ms. Constand says Mr. Cosby knocked her out with the pills and then sexually assaulted her, penetrating her with his fingers and guiding her hand to his penis. Mr. Cosby told police he didn’t remember whether Ms. Constand touched his genitals.

The jury was expected to hear Wednesday about Mr. Cosby’s acknowledged use of quaaludes, a popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the United States in 1982, to help get women to have sex with him.

Mr. Cosby said in his deposition that he had obtained several prescriptions for quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s, ostensibly for a sore back. The long-married comedian said he never took the drug, instead giving it to women he wanted to have sex with “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.“’ “Quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with, and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case,” Mr. Cosby testified.

The comic settled Ms. Constand’s lawsuit for nearly $3.4-million.

Mr. Cosby’s lawyers argued the testimony is irrelevant to his retrial because there is no evidence he gave Ms. Constand the drug. Prosecutors have suggested otherwise.

On Monday, Ms. Constand rejected defence allegations that she concocted her story to score a big payday, and her mother testified that Mr. Cosby apologized in a phone call and called himself a “sick man.”

Andrea and Gianna Constand’s testimony followed that of five additional accusers who told jurors that Mr. Cosby had drugged and assaulted them two decades earlier.

The Associated Press doesn’t typically identify people who say they’re victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Ms. Constand has done.

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