By Stacy M. Brown
Bill Cosby paid his sexual assault accuser $3.5 million in 2006 after prosecutors declined to bring charges against the legendary comedian, NNPA Newswire has learned exclusively.
Now, Cosby wants the judge in his criminal trial to let jurors know about the settlement.
“[Cosby] submits that evidence of the civil settlement and of the underlying civil litigation with Constand may be admissible,” Cosby’s lawyers wrote in court filings ahead of the hearings. “Among other things, admissibility is warranted for impeachment of Constand, in showing her financial motive to lie about the allegations, she made against Cosby, or for any other purpose…including as may be warranted by the testimony of Constand or otherwise.”
The settlement also came with a confidentiality agreement, which Cosby has previously said Constand broke when she went back to prosecutors in 2015, nearly a decade later.
Prosecutors have argued against bringing in details of the settlement and, this week, Assistant District Attorney Stewart Ryan claimed his office still doesn’t know how much Cosby paid Constand.
“If you allow the defense to bring in the settlement, we would also want the jury to hear about the negotiations [that led up to the settlement],” Ryan told the judge.
Cosby’s team argued that the settlement also bolsters a sworn statement from longtime Temple University employee Marguerite Jackson, who traveled with Constand in 2003 as part of the school’s women’s basketball team.
“During our stay [in a hotel in Rhode Island], Andrea and I shared a room,” Jackson said in a November 2016 statement. “I recall the television was on. We were watching the news. There was a news story of a high-profile individual who was accused of drugging women and sexually assaulting them. It was a well-publicized case.”
Jackson continued: “The news story piqued Andrea’s interest. She told me that something similar happened to her. I was shocked. I asked her, if she had filed charges. She said she hadn’t. I asked her why and she said, that like the story on the news, the person who had drugged and done something to her, sexually, was a high-profile person.”
In the statement, Jackson said Constand then told her that the incident never happened and that Constand went on to say that she’d make up accusations to win a lawsuit and use the money to go to school and open a business.
“We reserve the right to use the civil settlement as it ties with Marguerite Jackson’s statement and it’s perfectly consistent with what Andrea Constand said she’d do,” Cosby attorney Tom Mesereau said. “It will reveal Andrea Constand’s real motive, who she worked with, who was working on her behalf and just how greedy she really is.”
Prosecutors argued that Jackson’s statement somehow hurts Cosby more than it helps, but still they don’t want Jackson to testify.
During the first trial, last year, Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that Jackson’s testimony would be hear-say. Cosby’s lawyers argued that Jackson should be allowed to take the witness stand simply to rebut Constand, who, under oath, claimed she didn’t know Jackson.
Mesereau successfully defended pop icon Michael Jackson during his 2005 child molestation trial. During that case, Mesereau masterfully used civil settlements Jackson had made with some of his accusers to the defense’s advantage.
He noted a monetary motive for almost every prosecution witness.
The logic behind the pop star’s settlement applies to Cosby’s case, the defense proposes.
Jackson had an estimated worth of more than $500 million at that time, so settlements of $1 million, $3 million or even $20 million would be seen as very little, particularly, if it meant Jackson moving on with his life and career that could net millions more.
Reportedly, “The Cosby Show” alone has netted Bill Cosby more than $500 million, so the defense team might surmise that a $3.5 million payout to rid Cosby of a nuisance lawsuit was probably the best path forward.
“We have a great legal team,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said this week.
Wyatt said he couldn’t comment on the settlement.
“Tom Mesereau knows what he’s doing,” Wyatt said.