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Jury Hears Closing Arguments In Bill Cosby's Sexual Assault Trial


Jurors in Bill Cosby's retrial heard closing arguments today. The actor and comedian is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. An earlier trial on the same charges ended in a hung jury. Laura Benshoff from member station WHYY joins us now from the courthouse outside Philadelphia. Thank you for being with us, Laura.


SHAPIRO: This trial was supposed to last a month, but now it's wrapping up after 2 1/2 weeks. Why was it so much shorter than expected?

BENSHOFF: Well, Cosby's attorneys had said right off the bat they expected it to go for a month. And there were a lot of new witnesses called for both sides this time, including five additional women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault. But the judge kept it moving, and he shut down some testimony that would have been redundant or not allowed under rules of evidence.

SHAPIRO: Cosby's defense team gave their closing arguments first this morning. It was their last chance to leave the jury with doubts about the case. What did they say?

BENSHOFF: Cosby had two attorneys arguing his closing, and they both focused on one concept. And that was just credibility. They argued against the credibility of pretty much everyone involved in the prosecution. At one point, they projected a PowerPoint slide for the jury that said Andrea Constand's biggest lies. That's the woman whose complaints led to criminal charges. And they had a list of 12 things they say are inconsistent about her testimony.

And they attacked the five other women who testified as bandwagoners, people who just wanted a piece of the #MeToo movement. And they compared that to, quote, "a witch hunt." And they also tried to drum up sympathy for Cosby. Camille, his wife, was there for the first time so far during this trial. And the defense pointed repeatedly that this is an 80-year-old man who they said could go to jail and is legally blind.

SHAPIRO: OK, so that was the defense's argument. What about the prosecution? What was their final case supporting the accusations against Bill Cosby?

BENSHOFF: So prosecutor Kristen Feden took the lead on this, and she said right off the bat, you know, Cosby is nothing like the man he played on television. She said he cloaked himself in this, you know, Huxtable, good guy, America's dad image in order to prey on women. They said that the defense was shameless in using rape myths and character assassination - these are the prosecutor's words - to try to take attention away from what Cosby has said about his own behavior.

In the past, he said that he did get drugs to give women he wanted to have sex with and that he said that he had a romantic interest in Andrea Constand from the first time he saw her. They showed that that means he was out to prey on her. And they also just strung together the stories of those five other women who testified, pointing out the patterns and the things that were similar between what happened to them and what happened to Constand.

SHAPIRO: WHYY's Laura Benshoff covering the Bill Cosby retrial just outside Philadelphia. Thanks so much, Laura.

BENSHOFF: Thank you guys.

(SOUNDBITE OF RJD2'S "SUITE 2") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Benshoff
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