NEW YORK • He was not above seducing a young model by showing interest in her father's cancer. He promised other women his mentorship and career advice before pushing them for sex acts. And he tried to use financial sleight of hand to keep his wife from finding out about his serial philandering.
Bill Cosby admitted to all of this and more over four days of intense questioning 10 years ago at a Philadelphia hotel, where he defended himself in a deposition for a lawsuit filed by a woman who accused him of drugging and molesting her.
Even as he denied he was a sexual predator who assaulted many women, he presented himself in the deposition as an unapologetic, cavalier playboy, someone who used a combination of fame, apparent concern and powerful sedatives in a calculated pursuit of young women - a profile at odds with the popular image he so long enjoyed, that of father figure and public moralist.
In the deposition, which Cosby has for years managed to keep private but was obtained by The New York Times, he comes across as alternately annoyed, mocking, occasionally charming and sometimes boastful, often blithely describing sexual encounters in graphic detail. He talked of the 19-year-old aspiring model who sent him her poem and ended up on his sofa, where he said, she pleasured him with lotion. He spoke with casual disregard about ending a relationship with another model so he could pursue other women.
"Moving on," was his phrase.
He suggested he was skilled in picking up the non-verbal cues that signal a woman's consent.
"I think I'm a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them," he said.
Through it all, his manner was largely one of casual indifference.
At one point in the first day of questioning, Ms Dolores M. Troiani, lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, Ms Andrea Constand, a young woman who worked at Temple University as a basketball manager, seemed struck by Cosby's jocular manner. "I think you're making light of a very serious situation," she said, to which Cosby replied: "That may very well be."
Interest in his deposition grew this month when a federal judge unsealed a 62-page memorandum of law in the case, which had been settled in 2006. The memorandum contained excerpts from the deposition, including Cosby's acknowledgment that he had obtained quaaludes as part of his effort to have sex with women.
The parties have been prohibited from releasing the memorandum because of a confidentiality clause that was part of the settlement agreement, but the deposition itself was never sealed. This month, Constand's lawyer asked the court to lift the confidentiality clause so her client would be free to release the nearly 1,000-page deposition transcript. The Times later learnt that the transcript was already publicly available through a court reporting service.
Cosby has never been charged with a crime and has repeatedly denied the accusations of sexual assault, now levelled by dozens of women.
Mr David Brokaw, his publicist, did not respond to requests for comment last Saturday. Ms Troiani declined to comment.
In three suits, women who accused Cosby of sexual misconduct are pursuing civil claims against him. The Los Angeles police have also said they are reviewing a complaint of a sexual nature against him.
While he described encounters with many women through the course of his deposition, it is through his long and detailed descriptions of his relationship with Constand, who is much younger, that Cosby's attitudes, proclivities and approach to women are most clearly revealed. Constand was present for at least some of Cosby's testimony in the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia.
First spotting Constand at Temple University in the early 2000s, Cosby said he felt romantic interest immediately and began a relationship that led, in his telling, to dinners and more.
Asked how he wooed her, Cosby, who has been married since 1964, responded: "Inviting her to my house, talking to her about personal situations dealing with her life, growth, education." He painted his relationship with Constand as one of mentor and mentee, casting himself in the role of an experienced guide and offering her the benefit of his contacts and fame .
Constand ultimately went to the police to complain of Cosby's behaviour, but in his telling, his seduction was one of persistence and patience. Yet the association endured for a few years, until one night at his Pennsylvania home, when Constand said Cosby drugged and molested her.
Subsequently, concerned that Constand and her mother might seek to embarrass him, he said he offered to help pay for Constand's further education. It is difficult to say to what extent Cosby's wife, Camille, was aware of her husband's womanising, though it was certainly clear to her by 1997, when Cosby acknowledged an affair. Camille Cosby suggested at the time that there had been marital problems, but they had put them behind them.
Still, in the deposition, Cosby, 78, described going to some lengths to hide his behavior, blocking a magazine article to avoid publicity and funnelling money to one woman through his agent so "Mrs Cosby" would not find out.
In the case of Constand, who never sought any funds, Cosby said he imagined his wife would have known he was helping with her education. But, he said, "My wife would not know it was because Andrea and I had had sex and that Andrea was now very, very upset and that she decided that she would like to go to school."
NEW YORK TIMES