NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Comedian Bill Cosby acknowledged in 2005 that he offered to pay for graduate school for the woman who has accused him of sexual assault after her mother confronted him, jurors at his trial were told on Friday.
Jurors in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, courtroom read excerpts from a deposition Cosby gave under oath more than a decade ago, as prosecutors sought to use the comedian’s own words against him.
But Cosby’s defense lawyer, Brian McMonagle, noted that throughout the deposition that Cosby described the encounter with his accuser, Andrea Constand, as consensual.
Constand, a former administrator at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University, has accused him of drugging and then sexually assaulting her at his Philadelphia area home in 2004.
Dozens of women have leveled similar accusations against the 79-year-old entertainer, whose starring role in the 1980s television comedy “The Cosby Show” made him a household name. All but Constand’s are too old to support criminal charges under the state’s statute of limitations.
In the deposition, given in response to a civil lawsuit that Constand brought in 2005, Cosby said he gave her 1-1/2 Benadryl pills to help her relax before they engaged in what he called consensual sexual activity.
But Constand testified earlier this week the pills left her semi-conscious and unable to stop Cosby from sexually assaulting her.
Cosby also said in the deposition he refused to tell Constand or her mother what type of pills he gave her during a phone call in 2005 because he did not trust their intentions.
“The mother is coming at me for being a dirty old man, which is bad also, but then, ‘What did you give my daughter?’ ” Cosby said. “What are they going to say if I tell them about it? And also to be perfectly frank, I’m thinking and praying that nobody is recording me.”
Cosby offered to pay for Constand to go to graduate school, but indicated in the deposition that he did so because she and her mother were upset, not to compensate her for anything he did wrong.
The testimony came after both sides tussled over whether the defense should be allowed to introduce evidence that Constand is gay. Judge Steven O’Neill sided with the prosecution, which called it “unfairly prejudicial and completely irrelevant” and said it would violate Pennsylvania’s rape shield law that bars defendants from referring to a victim’s sexual past.
Cosby’s deposition was unsealed in 2015 by a federal judge, prompting prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, to reopen the case and later bring criminal charges before the statute of limitations expired.
Constand settled the civil lawsuit in 2006 for an undisclosed sum.