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Cosby Accuser Talked of Framing a Celebrity, Witness Says

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby’s star defense witness, a veteran academic adviser who works at his alma mater, Temple University, testified Wednesday that the woman who has accused Cosby of sexual assault had once remarked to her how it would be easy to fabricate such a charge to frame a celebrity and get money.

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JON HURDLE, New York Times

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby’s star defense witness, a veteran academic adviser who works at his alma mater, Temple University, testified Wednesday that the woman who has accused Cosby of sexual assault had once remarked to her how it would be easy to fabricate such a charge to frame a celebrity and get money.

The adviser, Marguerite Jackson, said Andrea Constand, who was once the director of operations for Temple’s women’s basketball team, made the comment while they were watching television in a hotel room they shared on a trip by the team for a game in Rhode Island.

“She said it did not happen,” Jackson told the jury at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

Constand testified this week that while Jackson’s name sounded familiar, she had always roomed alone on trips.

But from the witness stand, Jackson said she had shared a room with Constand for away games on two or three occasions. One time, in February 2004, she said Constand told her she had been assaulted by a celebrity, after seeing a clip on television about another, unnamed star who had been so accused.

Jackson testified that Constand then changed her story and told her that it actually had not happened after all.

“She said: ‘No it didn’t. I could say it did. I could quit my job. I could get that money,'” Jackson recalled.

Jackson, 56, is a 31-year employee of the university and now works as an academic adviser in Temple’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. Cosby’s defense team hopes the testimony from an experienced, mature voice will be taken seriously by the jurors and undercut Constand’s credibility.

The defense has portrayed Constand, 45, as a con artist who preyed on a lonely, older, wealthy entertainer and hatched a plot to siphon money from him. He paid her $3.38 million in a settlement that closed a 2005 lawsuit that she had filed against him after prosecutors initially balked at filing criminal charges in the case.

Constand’s account — that she was sexually assaulted by Cosby at his home near here in January 2004 after he incapacitated her with three blue pills — was bolstered last week by the accounts of five other women who testified that they, too, believe they were drugged and sexually assaulted by him.

Cosby, 80, has said the sexual contact with Constand was consensual, and he has denied the other women’s accounts.

Constand’s credibility has been a prime focus of the retrial, as it was last summer when the first trial ended with a hung jury.

Jackson, who worked with the athletic department as an adviser between 2002 and 2006, told the jury Wednesday that she recalled her hotel room conversation with Constand in 2005, when the story broke that Cosby had been accused of assault.

“The conversation we had came back to me,” she said.

She said she decided to come forward in 2016, after Cosby had been charged in the case, when she met a comedian on a cruise who said he could put her in touch with Cosby’s representatives.

On cross-examination, M. Stewart Ryan, an assistant district attorney, pointed to discrepancies and elaborations between statements Jackson has given at various points, such as quote marks that were added to the phrases she says Constand uttered. He suggested they had been added at the suggestion of Cosby’s lawyers, such as Kathleen Bliss, who had questioned Jackson during direct examination.

“Who put the quotation marks?” Ryan asked.

“Kathleen. Kathleen put the quotation marks because it is a direct quote,” she said. Later she said that she and Bliss had made other changes together.

The prosecution questioned why she had taken so long to come forward and also produced Temple expense records that showed she had not submitted any claims for reimbursement associated with travel with the team in 2004, though she had in 2003. Jackson said she had traveled with the team a half-dozen times but did not remember filing any expenses.

Jackson had been blocked from testifying at the first trial after Constand said that she did not know her. But in a major victory for the defense side, Judge Steven T. O’Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas allowed her testimony this time after the defense brought forward two former Temple colleagues who said Jackson and Constand did know each other.

During her testimony this week, Constand said of Jackson, “I recognize the name,” but she denied ever having shared a room with her.

Cosby is presenting a more extended defense in this trial after calling only a single witness last summer, a detective who testified for only six minutes.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution finished presenting its case, which included testimony from Judith Regan, the publisher of a 2002 memoir by one of Cosby’s accusers. She told the jury that the accuser, Janice Dickinson, had told her about being drugged and raped by Cosby but that her legal department would not allow publication of the accusation because there was no corroboration of the claim. Dickinson told the jury last week that her efforts to publish the accusation had been blocked by the publisher of “No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel.”

Regan confirmed that account, saying, “She wanted the rape story in the book, and she was insistent and angry that we wouldn’t include it.”

Under questioning by Ryan, Regan said she believed Dickinson’s claim that she had been raped, saying she found her “credible” and indicating that she had given her account “with great emotion.” During the civil suit that Constand filed against Cosby, he acknowledged in a deposition that he had once obtained quaaludes, a powerful sedative, to give to women he wanted to have sex with. That testimony was read out loud in the courtroom Wednesday to the jury as part of an effort by the prosecution to show that Cosby had a predilection for using drugs to incapacitate women.

Cosby’s lawyer had objected to the reading, suggesting there was no evidence that the three pills Cosby acknowledges giving Constand at his home were quaaludes. Cosby has said they were Benadryl.

In the deposition from 2005, Cosby had been asked by Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, “When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” according to a transcript read in court.

“Yes,” Cosby replied.

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