It has forever been a case of he said-she said. I can’t say I’m not surprised. This case should have been long settled and concluded by now. The first trial he had, ended hung. No steep conclusions. Still a matter of what is “being said” to counter the folly of a man (American Comedian, Bill Cosby) who has been the subject of publicized sexual assault allegations. With the earliest incidents allegedly taking place in the mid-1960s, Cosby has been accused by numerous women of rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, or sexual misconduct.
The re-trial of America’s Dad on sexual assault charges is more subdued, unless you count the half-naked lady who tried to pounce on him.
The reboot of “Bill Cosby, America’s Dad on Trial” debuted this week, but the sexual assault saga, unlike its blockbuster 2017 predecessor, is failing to capture media or public interest.
The original version, which opened in the Montgomery County Courthouse last June, drew hundreds of reporters, Cosby fans and scores of protesters who jammed courtrooms and clotted the courthouse steps.
The re-launch is subdued, by comparison. It wasn’t even trending on social media.
“Where is everybody?” asked Becky Werstler. She is a Cosby fan who waited on Airy Street in Norristown hoping to glimpse the comedian, whose hit 1980s sitcom “The Cosby Show” earned him the title “America’s Dad.”
“This place was mobbed last summer, now we’re the only two here,” she said, pointing to her husband, Dave, also a Cosby fan.
“I don’t expect no surprises at this one, either,” Dave said, as he checked on the couple’s 9-month-old son, Dave Jr., bundled in a carriage. “I think it’s the same storyline and nothin’s changed: Cosby’s the victim and Andrea Constand’s nothin’ but a gold-digger.”
(Spoiler alert: Dave Werstler is about to give away the ending of the first trial.)
“Why do you think it was a hung jury? No evidence, that’s why. Why can’t they leave that man alone? It’s a waste of money,” Dave Werstler said.
Those who followed the original trial know the plot. A young, ambitious ex-college basketball star, Andrea Constand, befriends megastar Cosby while working for Temple University’s athletics department in the early 2000s. She seeks career guidance from him. He seems to want more — like romance. But it ends in what Constand said were sexual assaults at his Cheltenham mansion in January 2004.
A year later, Constand reports the matter to police in Durham, Canada (where she lives), then to Montgomery County detectives. The case is reviewed and declined by then Republican DA Bruce Castor, who sees it as a “he said/she said” case, with little physical evidence. But it’s revived during Castor’s reelection bid by his opponent, Democrat Kevin R. Steele, who promises to prosecute Cosby if he’s elected.
Steele dispatched Castor, and made good on his promise. He charged Cosby with three counts of sexual assault. But in a humiliating defeat last June, Steele lost his case to a hung jury which deliberated for 52 hours — a county record. Within minutes of the loss, Steele’s office announced he would retry Cosby, now 80.
For the trial reboot, most of the prosecution team has returned in familiar roles. There is steely-haired Steele, of course, whose somewhat bland opening pitch to the jury on Monday included a surprise — Cosby had paid $3.38 million to Constand in a 2006 confidential settlement.
Feisty Kristen Feder returns as Steele’s peppy, earnest assistant, who emphasizes every word she speaks with punchy hand gesticulations.
Steven T. O’Neill is also back as the seasoned, avuncular Common Pleas Judge, overseeing the trial.
Other returning cast members include beady-eyed sheriff’s deputies (“Empty everything from your pockets, sir”), celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred (still banished to the cheap seats in the “overflow” spectator courtroom by Judge O’Neill for using her phone during the first trial) and “the media” as “the media.”
Cosby returns in his starring role as aging star, silent, forlorn, legally blind, hobbling on a cane at the side of his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt.
But there are changes at the defense table. Streetwise, chair-thumping defense lawyer Brian McMonagle is gone, replaced with Tom Mesereau, whose shock of long, white hippie hair belies his professorial courtroom delivery. Constand is a “con” who was in love — but not with Cosby, he told jurors.
“She was madly in love with his fame and money,” he said.
Expert witness for the prosecution, Dr. Barbara Ziv, a clinical psychiatrist who specializes in sexual assault cases, was the first to take the stand Tuesday, replacing last year’s expert witness for the prosecution, Veronique Valliere. Ziv gave essentially the same testimony as Valliere, stating that Constand’s many friendly meetings with Cosby, and her scores of phone calls to him after he allegedly assaulted her, are “normal” behavior.
Assistant defense team lawyer Kathleen Bliss confronted Ziv with a quote she gave to Sky News after last year’s trial: “When there are only two people involved there is always a ‘he said, she said’ element — so who are you going to believe? It’s hard to make judgements about credibility, so there is a heavy reliance on physical evidence.”
That’s essentially why the first trial ended hung. No surprises here, unless you count the bare-chested woman protester who tried to confront Cosby as he arrived at the courthouse on Monday.
Two and half stars for “Bill Cosby, America’s Dad on Trial: II.”
Get more stuff like this in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.
We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously