Bill Cosby declined to testify in his criminal indecent assault trial on Monday, and his defense rested after calling just one repeat witness for further questioning.
In a sworn statement without the jury present, Cosby told Judge Steven O’Neill that he did not plan to testify in his own defense. In criminal trials, the onus is on prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and defendants are not required to take the stand.
Jurors did hear Cosby’s side of the story, though not in his voice. Last week, police detectives read aloud his statements to police in 2005 and in his civil deposition in 2006 responding to the allegations. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to three charges of aggravated indecent assault.
The prosecution rested its case on Friday after calling 12 witnesses to the stand. Those witnesses included a woman who previously accused Cosby of assault, police detectives, and experts on drugs and sexual assault.
Chief among those witnesses was Andrea Constand, the former Temple employee who says that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in January 2004. She testified in firm and clear words over two days last week that Cosby, a powerful alum at the university, mentored her and then took advantage of her at his home in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
In statements to police and in his civil deposition, the comedian known as “America’s Dad” admitted that he gave Constand pills and then engaged in sexual contact with her. He also said that he had previously obtained Quaaludes, a powerful sedative, with the intention of giving them to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
Cosby’s defense attorneys argue that his sexual contact with Constand was part of a consensual relationship between the two. They said that Constand’s initial statements to police were full of inconsistencies that undermine the truthfulness of her story.
Cosby said before the trial that he did not plan to testify because of what could happen on cross-examination. However, his publicist Andrew Wyatt suggested last week that “nothing’s ever off the table.”
That proved to be a bit of bluster on Wyatt’s part. The defense only called up police detective Richard Schaffer, who also testified for the prosecution, for brief questioning.
In a fiery closing statement, defense attorney Brian McMonagle urged jurors to acquit Cosby, saying that Constand had changed her story after speaking with attorneys who specialize in sexual assault cases.
Constand initially told police that she had not been alone with Cosby prior to the alleged assault and that she had little contact with him afterward. However, Constand admitted under oath that she had been alone with him before at his hotel room at the Foxwoods casino, and phone records showed that the two had made 72 calls to each other afterward.
Constand said that she was “mistaken” when she made those statements to police. She testified that nothing romantic happened in the hotel room, and that she made those phone calls as part of her job at Temple.
“Hopefully, you will have the last two words in this case, and I pray those words are not guilty,” McMonagle said.
Prosecutors will deliver their closing statements next, which will be followed by instructions to the jury. Deliberations could start as soon as this afternoon.
Though dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, Constand’s accusations are the only ones that have led to criminal charges.
Cosby arrives with wife
Cosby arrived at court arm-in-arm with his wife Camille on Monday, marking her first appearance at the comedian’s trial for aggravated indecent assault.
Cosby has previously arrived at the Montgomery County Courthouse with various celebrities from the world of entertainment. The former actor was joined last Monday by Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Rudy Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”
Other actors have joined on other trial days, including two appearances by Joe Torry.
Camille Cosby is the first member of his family to join him in arriving at court. His daughters have not done so to this point.
As always, Cosby was also joined on Monday by Wyatt, his longtime publicist. Wyatt said on Friday that Camille Cosby continued to support him, despite the accusations of assault from dozens of women. “Mrs. Cosby has been supporting Mr. Cosby for the entire time they’ve been together for 53 years,” he said.
“People think that because of optics that if you don’t see them here, then they don’t love you and you’re not together anymore. That doesn’t say that you don’t have the support. What it says is that you want to protect your family from being attacked by this media circus out here, and that’s OK.”