Trial Judge Rules to Admit Cosby Testimony About Quaaludes

Bill Cosby arriving Tuesday for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who is presiding at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial, ruled Tuesday that jurors could hear the defendant’s previous statements about obtaining quaaludes, powerful sedatives, as part of his efforts to have sex with women.

Prosecutors say Mr. Cosby’s statement about the quaaludes bolsters their contention that he drugged women, including Andrea Constand, whom he is charged with molesting in 2004 after giving her three blue pills. She has testified they incapacitated her.

Mr. Cosby’s defense team had tried to block the introduction of his statement from a 2005 deposition in a civil suit that Ms. Constand filed against him. Becky James, an attorney for Mr. Cosby, said his remarks about his past use of quaaludes had nothing to do with the current case.

“Using quaaludes on the party scene in the 1970s just doesn’t have any relevance,” she said on the eighth day of the trial.

Mr. Cosby has said the pills he gave Ms. Constand were Benadryl, designed to help her relax. But she has described being all but immobilized during her encounter with Mr. Cosby at his home near here. Five other women testified last week that they believed Mr. Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them.

Ms. Constand’s civil suit, ended with Mr. Cosby paying her a $3.38 million settlement that involved no admission of wrongdoing.

“When you got the quaaludes,” the lawyer, Dolores Troiani, asked at the time, “was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?”

“Yes,” Mr. Cosby replied.

Mr. Cosby’s lawyer objected before he could answer whether he had ever given any women the drugs without their knowledge. But Mr. Cosby has suggested that he viewed providing drugs akin to asking a woman if she might like a cocktail.

The prosecution is likely to have the 2005 deposition testimony read out loud in court before it concludes its presentation of evidence on Wednesday or Thursday.

One prosecution witness on Tuesday was a local police investigator, who read sections of Mr. Cosby’s interview by the Cheltenham Township Police Department in January 2005, after Ms. Constand first came forward with her account. Mr. Cosby acknowledged the sexual contact with Ms. Constand in that interview but described it as consensual and part of a broader, somewhat romantic, relationship.

In the transcript, Mr. Cosby also described for the detectives a phone conversation with Gianna Constand, Andrea Constand’s mother, who he said was very upset with him.

“Three times her mother said to me, this is a horrible thing you have done to my daughter,” Mr. Cosby said, according to the transcript.

“First I apologized twice; I said ‘What can I do?’ She said ‘Nothing,’ she wanted apologies,” Mr. Cosby said in the transcript.

Under cross-examination from Mr. Cosby’s lead attorney, Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., the local investigator, Sgt. Richard Schaffer, denied that Ms. Constand had been inconsistent in her stories about the timing of the encounter, how much alcohol she had drunk on that occasion and whether she had a flirtatious relationship with Mr. Cosby.

Sgt. Schaffer acknowledged that Ms. Constand had revised her initial account that the incident took place in March 2004, later saying it had happened in January of that year.

“The landmark date in her memory was corrected,” Sergeant Schaffer said.

The Montgomery County district attorney at the time declined to prosecute the case, a fact Mr. Mesereau drew attention to in his cross-examination. That decision was reviewed in 2015, when prosecutors decided to reinvestigate.

Also testifying for the prosecution was James Reape, a detective with Montgomery County, who acknowledged that Ms. Constand had provided conflicting time frames. But, under cross-examination by Kathleen Bliss, an attorney for Mr. Cosby, Detective Reape said he had concluded that the varying times were not important.

“When we look at the inconsistency of a date, it’s not something that gives me pause as an investigator,” he said.

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