Bill Cosby Retrial: Comedian’s Legal Team Struggles to Produce Key Witness

Jury hears testimony from comedian’s assistants as his retrial carries on

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Bill Cosby retrial judge Steven T. O’Neill is deliberating until Monday on whether or not to allow portions of a key witness’ previous deposition to be read to the jury, as the defense has requested. The witness, Sheri Williams — purportedly a close friend of Cosby’s alleged sexual assault victim Andrea Constand — has not responded to subpoenas, according to the defense attorneys, who have tried in vain to question her for Cosby’s retrial.

Cosby’s defense team believes Williams would have special insight into their allegation that Constand plotted to lie about Cosby assaulting her for money.

Witnesses that the defense did procure for the stand on Friday made for relatively brief and unrevealing interviews. Debbie Meister, a Cosby personal assistant, produced documents of his past itineraries and flight schedules. Prosecutor Kevin Steele made short work of having Meister, who began working for Cosby in 2010, clarify that she was not present in 2004 when Constand’s alleged assault took place.

Another witness, executive assistant Kimberly Harjo, testified similarly to helping create Cosby’s schedules and itineraries. Steele pressed her to admit that she couldn’t produce documentation regarding Cosby’s personal, rather than business, schedule and that all of her documentation would have happened before any of his scheduled events actually occurred.

Judge O’Neill rejected defense attorney Tom Mesereau’s request to question the day’s final witness, Robert Russell — described as a former close friend of Constand’s — about hearing Constand allegedly state that it was a goal of hers to come to the United States to become a millionaire. Russell’s questioning on the stand was concluded abruptly after he testified that he had not spoken to Constand since 2001 and wasn’t even aware she had moved to the U.S. after they fell out of touch.

Cosby is being re-tried on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, stemming from former Temple University employee Constand’s accusation that the comedian molested her in 2004 at his home outside of Philadelphia.

Cosby’s initial trial in the matter ended in a mistrial in July 2017 after the jury was unable to reach a verdict following five days of deliberations.