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Here’s how Bill Cosby’s second trial is playing out differently

Prosecutors in the Bill Cosby sexual assault retrial say they are close to wrapping up their case, and a judge has ruled that jurors can hear Cosby's 2005 testimony admitting he gave quaaludes to women. Andrea Constand asserts the comedian drugged and assaulted her; more than 50 women have made similar accusations. Yamiche Alcindor talks to Maryclaire Dale.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Prosecutors in the retrial of Bill Cosby today told the judge they are close to wrapping up their case. The first trial ended in a hung jury last year. Now he is facing prosecution again over sexual assault charges.

    Yamiche Alcindor gets the latest. It comes after a judge ruled today that jurors can hear Cosby's 2005 testimony admitting he gave quaaludes to women before what he says was consensual sex.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Jurors spent Friday and yesterday hearing from Cosby's principal accuser, Andrea Constand. She asserts the comedian drugged and sexually assaulted her at his Philadelphia home in January 2004.

    Cosby claims the encounter was consensual, and that Constand, who took more than $3 million from him in a 2005 settlement, is a con artist looking to cash in.

    More than 50 women have made similar accusations against Cosby, dating back decades. Cosby denies all charges of assault.

    Maryclaire Dale is a longtime Associated Press legal affairs reporter, and currently on leave for a Nieman Fellowship in journalism. She has been in the courtrooms throughout both trials, and joins us now from Philadelphia.

    Maryclaire, thanks for being here.

    Now, several women have testified during this trial and have accused Cosby of using his celebrity status and drugs to sexually assault them.

    Walk me through what might have been powerful moments in the courtroom. And what are they saying?

  • Maryclaire Dale:

    Right.

    This trial is different, in that the judge allowed five other women who accused Cosby of drugging and molesting them to take the stand. Last year, when the jury deadlocked, only one other woman was allowed to testify to support Constand's accusations.

    So, these women, they include the former supermodel Janice Dickinson, a Colorado music teacher, Heidi Thomas, and three others, testified to very similar patterns of alleged behavior. They say that they went to meet Cosby sometimes in a hotel suite or a home that they had gone to, to perhaps have an acting lesson, or they were hoping that he might introduce them to other people in the music or entertainment world, things like that.

    They said that they went there, that maybe they had a sip of wine, maybe he gave them pills for a cold, that knocks them out, and that they were then sexually assaulted. So the jury heard from these women. Of course, the defense came at them, talked about some — if they had ever had problems in their lives that maybe, they said, called into question their credibility.

    Many of the women, you know, nonetheless maintain that, you know, their stories against Cosby are true. They acknowledged perhaps problems in their lives, but said that this was absolutely true and that, you know, one even said, you remember me, don't you, Mr. Cosby?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Talk to me about the MeToo movement and at all what impact it's having on the trial. The first trial happened before the MeToo movement happened. This time around, things are different.

  • Maryclaire Dale:

    Right.

    It's a very different moment, even though it's not even a year later in this trial. You know, for one thing, the jury is somewhat younger this time around. And, more importantly, perhaps some jurors who have kept up with the MeToo movement during questioning, before they made the jury, many of them said they were familiar with the moment and the movement.

    And so the accusations are coming forward in a time when perhaps more people are aware of, you know, the history that some women have had with sexual harassment or other forms of harassment.

    In fact, the prosecutors changed their strategy this time. Their very first witness that they called was an expert, a forensic psychiatrist who is an expert in dealing with sexual assault, both abusers and victims. And she discussed and explained to the jury how it's not uncommon for victims of sexual assault to stay in touch with the abuser. Sometimes, they have to for family reasons. Sometimes, they want an explanation.

    Sometimes, they demand to know what happened. And that is exactly what the defense is pointing out Andrea Constand did. She stayed in touch with him afterward to some extent. They had a relationship through her job at Temple University, where he was a booster of the basketball team for whom she worked.

    But even after she left that job, there was phone contacts between them. And prosecutors — are pointing out that that shows that she had a consensual relationship with him. They are painting her this time around as a con artist who framed Cosby to get the $3.4 million settlement that he paid her in her civil settlement — civil lawsuit.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    I want to ask you about Cosby's defense attorneys' strategy. It's a new team this time around.

    What is different about they're doing this time around? I know you talked a little bit about painting her like a con artist, but kind of what else are they doing?

  • Maryclaire Dale:

    Right.

    It's a very different defense really, because, last year, the judge didn't not in — didn't allow jurors to hear about the lawsuit that Constand filed against Cosby. When a former prosecutor declined to arrest him, she filed a civil lawsuit.

    After Cosby was made to give depositions over two years, four days of testimony over two years, in which he acknowledged getting quaaludes in the '70s to give women that he wanted to have sex with, and he acknowledged some other patterns of behavior, giving young women, actresses and models wine before sexual encounters and things like that.

    They, again, say they were knocked out by the wine or the pills. So that settlement money is coming in. And so the question isn't consent, as it was last year. Last year, really, the whole issue was just, was it a consensual relationship or was it a consensual encounter?

    This time, they are saying that she is a con artist and deliberately set out a plan to frame Cosby and get this money.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, thank you so much, Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press. I really appreciate you joining us.

  • Maryclaire Dale:

    Thank you.

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