(NYTimes) - Bill Cosby will not testify at his trial next month in Pennsylvania on sexual-assault charges, he said in a radio interview that aired on Tuesday (May 16).
Cosby told radio host Michael Smerconish on SiriusXM radio that he planned to leave his defence to his legal team.
"When you have to deal with examination, cross-examination, et cetera, et cetera, more than two sides to every story, sometimes it's four or five," he said in the radio interview. "And what people want to say and want you to say and how they manoeuvre, and, yes, I do have lawyers protect me - objection; sustained. But I just don't want to sit there and have to figure out what I believe is a truthful answer to whether or not I'm opening a can of something that my lawyers are scrambling."
Cosby said it was the first time since 2015 that he had given an interview, since a rush of women have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault, causing him to break off his touring schedule and virtually disappear from public view.
In a sometimes halting and meandering voice, he declined to address the allegations against him brought by the long line of women, indicating that his lawyers had forbidden him to.
Next month he will go on trial on charges that he drugged and assaulted one of the women, Andrea Constand, a former Temple University staff member, in his house north of Philadelphia in 2004.
Cosby, 79, has denied the accusations, saying that any drug taking or sex was consensual, and in the radio interview he said, "I just think that now in this time we are looking at law and not things with - I mean, proof has to be brought to the front, period." In the interview, which lasts about 30 minutes, Cosby spoke about his childhood, his daughters and his son, who was killed in 1997. He said that he felt bound to break his silence for the sake of the people who still believed in him.
"I decided that I think it's time for me to do something so that the people who still have faith in me, the people who are still wondering what I sound like as opposed to The National Enquirer, which is very interesting reading when they write about me," he said.
Cosby's interview follows a statement last month by one of his lawyers, who indicated a new strategy to change the "optics" for a defendant who she said many people have already decided is guilty of abusing women. That interview coincided with the release of a supportive statement by one of Cosby's daughters, and another, written interview by Cosby that he gave to BlackPressUSA, in which he discussed his blindness.
In the radio interview, in which he described his experience during the past two years as an "attack" on him, and "nefarious", Cosby said it might have been partly motivated by racism and partly by some kind of revenge.
"When you look at the power structure and when you look at individuals, there are some people who can very well be motivated by whether or not they're going to work or whether or not they might be able to get back at someone," he said.
A good portion of the interview was spent discussing matters not directly related to the criminal case, such as the issue of whether Cosby intends to perform again some day. (He'd like to.) But Cosby did not address in any detail why his accusers should be mistrusted or clarify who he felt may be acting out of revenge or racism.
Cosby acknowledged that, even if exonerated at trial, public opinion was a different issue.
"If a jury says so forth and so on, there's still public opinion," he said. "And if the jury comes for the other side of the so forth and so on, it's still public opinion. So I think it's something that you never will be able to satisfy all minds and all behaviours. I know the side that I'm on and the side that I'm hoping for."
His wife, Camille, has attended none of the pretrial hearings in Pennsylvania over the past year and a half, during which Cosby has sat largely silent at the front of the court. It is not clear whether she will attend the trial.
Smerconish at one point asked Cosby if he had lost his wife's support at any point during the past two years. Cosby responded, "Never, never."
(Cosby's stance as a public moralist who spoke out about issues like family life was cited as a justification by a judge in 2015 to unseal excerpts from deposition testimony in which Cosby admitted to pursuing women for sex, adding to the outcry against him.
In the radio interview, Cosby said he still wanted to motivate people "and move them in a direction away from apathy sometimes, sometimes away from fear." He even cited Gloria Steinem: "Gloria Steinem had a very interesting quote. She said, 'The truth shall set you free, but first it might piss you off.'"