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Lawyers Deliver Closing Arguments In Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial


The fate of comedian Bill Cosby is now in the hands of a jury in suburban Philadelphia. As Bobby Allyn of member station WHYY reports, jury deliberations follow more than a week of testimony over whether Cosby is guilty of sexually assaulting a former basketball coach in 2004.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Prosecutors had the first and final word in the trial of Bill Cosby. In his closing arguments, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele laid out why Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby's alleged fondling of Andrea Constand, her state of unconsciousness and her lack of consent. Each triggered a separate charge. If convicted, the 79-year-old Cosby could go to prison for decades. Cosby's lawyers haven't denied that the interaction in question occurred, but they say it was consensual. That's unusual, said former prosecutor Dennis McAndrews.

DENNIS MCANDREWS: It's rare to have a case where there is uncontradicted evidence on both sides that's particularly compelling. This is going to be a very difficult job for this jury.

ALLYN: More than 50 women have accused Cosby of uninvited sexual advance, but almost all of the cases were too old to prosecute. To many of those survivors, convicting Cosby over one incident is a kind of collective justice. Yet to Cosby's defense team, the prosecution represents something else - a he-said, she-said where she says she was violated, and he says the encounter was mutually gratifying and romantic. Again, McAndrews.

MCANDREWS: The consent is the heart of the disagreement, and the question really becomes, does she have a motive to lie? What is that motive, and why would she be lying? That's what really their focus has to be.

ALLYN: Cosby's attorney, Brian McMonagle, gave a grandstanding closing argument. He screamed, drummed on the council table. He reminded the jury that the two had given each other gifts and had fireside chats at Cosby's home. And he said Andrea Constand made inconsistent statements to police. Lawyer Gloria Allred represented a second accuser who told jurors that she too had been drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby. Allred said McMonagle is trying to distract the jury with minor details.

GLORIA ALLRED: He doesn't want us to see the forest. He only wants us to see the trees and be confused because that's his job - is to try to raise reasonable doubt.

ALLYN: Outside the courtroom, Cosby's spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said those little details undercut the accuser's credibility. He said prosecutors are ignoring the conflicting information, hoping to distort Cosby's legacy.


ANDREW WYATT: But it's not going to work. The jurors I believe see this.

ALLYN: Wyatt rattled off a list of other prominent African-Americans, including LeBron James and Colin Powell. He suggested that if Cosby is convicted, current and future black leaders could be unfairly targeted.


WYATT: Because now they have a formula that's tried, true and tested with no evidence. And they could come up and make whatever accusation up and destroy our iconic figures' legacy.

ALLYN: Cosby's lead defense attorney, Brian McMonagle, presented just one witness - a detective who he questioned for five minutes. McMonagle told jurors that Cosby, once known as America's dad, quote, "not only taught us how to smile but taught us how to love each other." He said Cosby may be flawed, but he's not a criminal. For the first time during the trial, Cosby's wife, Camille, walked with him to the courthouse. She sat in the front row during closing arguments by the defense. Cosby's spokesman, Wyatt, said that meant a lot.


WYATT: She was here to show that - I'm not going to stand for this, and I stand by my husband no matter what and how bad they try to paint him.

ALLYN: Accuser Andrea Constand sat stone-faced during closing arguments. Bill Cosby looked on pensively. For NPR News, I'm Bobby Allyn in Norristown. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.