Cosby paid accuser millions in ‘hush money’
BILL Cosby paid his sexual assault accuser Andrea Constand $3.5 million in hush money in 2006, The New York Post has learned.
While the civil settlement, hashed out at the same time the comedian avoided prosecution, is widely known, the amount has never been publicly revealed.
The revelation comes as the disgraced funnyman, 80, faces an April retrial on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of Constand. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
At Cosby's previous trial last summer, in which jurors failed to reach a verdict, the comedian's defence strategy was to simply deny the assault ever happened. Now he wants jurors to believe that Constand - who claims to have been assaulted in January 2004 at Cosby's Pennsylvania home - was only after money when she brought her allegations.
Constand settled with Cosby after former Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor declined to bring charges in 2006, citing problems with evidence and Constand's credibility. Castor said he encouraged her to seek "civil remedies."
But when Castor's successor, Kevin R. Steele, took office in 2016, he was not bound by the former prosecutor's decision or the civil settlement. Steele, believing that Cosby not only drugged and assaulted Constand but also has a pattern of such misconduct, opted to bring new criminal charges.
"That man," Steele said, pointing to Cosby in court, "is a serial abuser. He selects his victims, he gives them an intoxicant and he assaults them."
A former pro-basketball player in Europe, Constand, now 44, previously testified she considered Cosby a mentor.
But during a visit to his home, she claims, he plied her with three blue pills and told her to have some wine. "My vision became blurry and I could hardly speak," Constand said.
"I became frozen and paralysed, and he was touching my breasts and put his hands down my pants," she said, adding that he penetrated her vagina with his fingers before placing her hand on his erect penis.
Cosby maintains his relationship with Constand was consensual and only soured after he failed to get her a gig as a sportscaster for the 2004 Olympics.
More than 50 women have come forward alleging Cosby plied them with drugs and sexually assaulted them. The married comedian has denied those claims.
For the new trial, the defence strategy will likely centre around the reported $500 million fortune "America's Dad" made from "The Cosby Show." His defence team hopes to convince jurors to conclude that a $3.5 million payout to Constand was paid to rid Cosby of a "nuisance" lawsuit and not an admission of guilt.
The comedian's longtime spokesman Andrew Wyatt told us, "We want the civil suit" included in the new trial, and Judge Steven O'Neill is expected to rule this week whether the settlement can be admitted when proceedings kick off on April 2.
Asked what's changed, Wyatt deadpanned: "Tom Mesereau."
At the conclusion of the first criminal trial last summer, Cosby replaced Philadelphia lawyer Brian McMonagle with Mesereau, best known for successfully defending
Michael Jackson against child-molestation charges in 2005. In that case, the lawyer deftly used the civil settlements Jackson made with some of his accusers to his client's advantage.
Page Six has learned that Cosby's lawyers seek to put Foxwoods Casino Resorts manager Thomas Cantone and Constand pal Sheri Lynn Williams on the stand. They called no witnesses last time. Cosby says Cantone can attest to Constand voluntarily going to Cosby's hotel room late at night and once brought him gifts, lit a fire and cozied up in a bed with him. Constand testified that she sat on Cosby's bed because there wasn't anywhere else to sit.
Williams' testimony would refute Constand's claims she wasn't aware of Cosby's sexual interest in her, lawyers say. A third witness, Temple employee Marguerite Jackson, is considered crucial because she says Constand told her she could "set up" Cosby and get a payday, according to court papers. Constand denies knowing Jackson.
This story originally appeared in Page Six and is republished here with permission.