Sexual allegations

Cosby paid $4.4m to settle lawsuit

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby leaving the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, after the first day of his re-trial.
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby leaving the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, after the first day of his re-trial.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Prosecutors say on first day of actor's re-trial that sum was paid to Ms Andrea Constand in 2005

NEW YORK • Bill Cosby paid Ms Andrea Constand US$3.38 million (S$4.43 million) to settle a sexual assault lawsuit she brought against him in 2005, prosecutors said at the opening of his criminal re-trial on Monday.

That sum was part of a confidential settlement between the comedian and the former employee of Temple University who had accused him of drugging and molesting her at his home in 2004.

The payment had never been disclosed before publicly, but Cosby, 80, agreed to reveal it during pre-trial discussions. His lawyers are expected to argue that the payment is not an admission of wrongdoing, but rather evidence of Ms Constand's financial incentive in pursuing charges against him.

One key defence witness, a Temple University academic adviser, is expected to testify that Ms Constand once told her that she could make money by falsely claiming she had been molested by a prominent person.

The adviser, Ms Marguerite Jackson, was not allowed to testify at the first trial after Ms Constand testified that she did not know her. But the defence has since brought forward two former Temple colleagues of Ms Constand's who said she and Ms Jackson did know each other.

The prosecution's case has also been significantly bolstered since the first trial this past summer, which ended with a hung jury.

Judge Steven O'Neill is allowing prosecutors to present accounts from five women who say Cosby tried to intoxicate them as part of a plan to sexually abuse them.

In the first trial, only one additional accuser was allowed to add her voice.

The start of the proceedings on Monday was delayed for several hours as the judge reviewed a motion by Cosby's lawyers to dismiss a juror who, they said, had told another prospective juror last week that he thought the entertainer was guilty.

The judge decided the juror could remain, though he did not disclose his reason.

On Monday, Cosby's entry to the courthouse was briefly delayed in the morning by the protest of a topless woman, later identified as Ms Nicolle Rochelle, a former actress who had appeared several times on The Cosby Show.

She jumped over a crowd barrier outside the courthouse and yelled "women's lives matter".

She was wrestled to the ground by courthouse security staff about 9m in front of Cosby as he walked towards the building's front doors.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2018, with the headline 'Cosby paid $4.4m to settle lawsuit'. Print Edition | Subscribe