Bill Cosby’s lawyers are scrambling to make sure jurors at his sexual assault retrial hear from accuser Andrea Constand’s confidante before deliberations get underway next week — but they’re having trouble getting the woman to cooperate.
Sheri Williams isn’t responding to subpoena attempts, Cosby’s lawyers said. Now they’re seeking a judge’s permission to read parts of her deposition into the record just as prosecutors did with Cosby’s old testimony.
Judge Steven O’Neill is expected to rule on the request on Friday.
Constand testified at Cosby’s first trial last year that she and Williams were good friends and would speak “at all hours of the day: morning, noon, and night” and were in touch as she went to police in January 2005 with allegations he drugged and molested her about a year earlier.
Cosby’s lawyers said they expected Williams’ testimony to refute Constand’s claims that she was unaware he was romantically interested in her. They said she’d show that Constand “could not have been the unwitting victim” prosecutors have portrayed.
Williams’ deposition was part of Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against Cosby, who wound up settling for nearly $3.4 million.
Two weeks in, Cosby’s case is rapidly winding down.
O’Neill is telling jurors that there are only a few more days of testimony. Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau went into the case predicting it would last about a month.
A pair of drug experts — one for the prosecution and one for the defense — spent Thursday debating one of the case’s enduring mysteries: What drug did he give his chief accuser on the night she says he molested her?
Cosby has insisted he handed 1½ tablets of the over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to Andrea Constand to help her relax before their sexual encounter at his mansion outside Philadelphia. Constand testified he gave her three small blue pills that left her incapacitated and unable to resist as he molested her.
The experts agreed that paralysis isn’t known to be a side effect of Benadryl, though its active ingredient can cause drowsiness and muscle weakness, among other side effects.
Cosby’s expert, Harry Milman, said he didn’t know of any small blue pill that could produce the symptoms Constand described.
The “Cosby Show” star has previously acknowledged under oath he gave Quaaludes — a powerful sedative and 1970s-era party drug that’s been banned in the U.S. for more than 35 years — to women he wanted to have sex with, but denied having them by the time he met Constand in the early 2000s.
Dr. Timothy Rohrig, a forensic toxicologist called by prosecutors, testified Thursday that quaaludes can make people sleepy. But he and Milman said the drug came in large white pills — not small and blue.
Prosecutors rested their case after Rohrig got off the witness stand.
The defense immediately asked Judge Steven O’Neill to acquit Cosby and send jurors home, arguing prosecutors hadn’t proved aggravated indecent assault charges. O’Neill refused.
Cosby’s lawyers are expected to call several people who worked for him, including an executive assistant and employees of his talent agency and publicity firm. It’s likely part of a bid to challenge the prosecution’s contention that the alleged assault happened within the 12-year statute of limitations.
Williams’ deposition testimony could have insights into what led Constand to accuse Cosby and whether the encounter was a factor in her leaving her job a few months later as the director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University.
A private investigator working for the defense said he attempted to serve Williams at least six times at her North Carolina home before sending her a FedEx package containing a subpoena and instructions to call Cosby’s legal team.
Williams’ name already has come up several times at the retrial.
Constand testified that Williams was the friend she cut and pasted emails from for a business that Cosby’s lawyers described as a Ponzi scheme.
Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss questioned Constand’s mother about Andrea’s friendship with Williams and suggested that they were on the outs about a month before Constand went to police.
“What has Sheri got to do with this?” Gianna Constand replied.
Charles Kipps, a writer who worked with Cosby, testified he met Constand and Williams for dinner in New York as Constand was moving back to Canada in March 2004.