Entertainment

Cosby Judge Balks at Testimony About Accuser’s Drug Use

Andrea Constand was hooked on mushrooms and marijuana and she came to America to try and become a millionaire, according to a defense witness who prosecutors want barred from taking the stand.

Robert Russell, who said in a sworn statement that he, Constand and her mother, Gianna, were close friends in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was expected to take the stand late Friday to detail his relationship with the woman accusing comedian Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her.

“The prosecution is trying to say that [Constand] is some innocent babe in the woods,” Cosby lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau said. “They’ve painted the idea that’s she’s naïve, pure and holistic and that she was naïve in accepting pills from Bill Cosby.”

Russell has said that Constand wasn’t “this holistic person” she portrayed herself to be and that she obviously had a plan to get $1 million.

As has been the case throughout the trial’s first two weeks, Judge Steven T. O’Neill ruled against defense lawyers, prohibiting them from questioning Russell in front of jurors about Constand’s desire to become a millionaire. O’Neill also indicated that he’s unlikely to allow them to question Russell about Constand’s alleged drug use.

“If somebody does drugs in 2001, does that make it relevant in 2018?” O’Neill said, disregarding the defense’s argument that the information helps them establish her motive.

“The persona painted here of Andrea Constand is false,” Mesereau said.

Prosecutors have also objected to mentioning that either Constand or Russell may be somehow related to Steve Nash, the retired NBA All-Star who, like Constand and Russell, is also from Canada. They haven’t detailed the relationship.

The bombshell comes as two defense witnesses appeared to have successfully raised the issue of statute of limitations. Cosby’s tour manager Debbie Meister and his former executive assistant, Kimberly Harjo, both testified and presented documents showing that the comedian could not have been in Pennsylvania in January 2004, when prosecutors claim the alleged assault occurred.

Prosecutors filed charges against Cosby on Dec. 30, 2015, and, because the statute of limitations is 12 years in Pennsylvania, if the alleged crime happed before 2004 it cannot legally be prosecuted.

Harjo said she spoke with Constand on the telephone in February 2003 and records produced by the prosecution during testimony by Temple University employee Marguerite Jackson, also reveal a February 2003 date.

Further, Cosby’s former personal chef testified that he cooked dinner for Cosby and Constand five times before he left his position in May 2003.

“The commonwealth has the burden of proof in this case and they must prove that there was a crime and when it happened,” Cosby spokeswoman Ebonee Benson said. “They have not done this. They rested their case and they failed to prove this. The defense has produced evidence that the defendant was not in Pennsylvania the night in question.

“We have no burden of proof, yet we have proved there was no crime,” Benson said. “We also established this morning that the alleged incident, which is not a crime because it’s a consensual relationship, did not happen within the statutory limit of time.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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