Bill Cosby paid Andrea Constand nearly $3.4 million in a 2006 settlement, a Pennsylvania district attorney revealed during open statements on the first day of Cosby’s retrial Monday.
The amount of that settlement — $3.38 million — had not been made public before Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele addressed it on day one of the retrial centered on allegations that Cosby drugged and molested Constand in his Pennsylvania home in 2004. Judge Steven O’Neill agreed last week to allow the jury to hear the details and the previously undisclosed sum of the settlement.
Cosby’s defense team had lobbied to include the settlement as evidence, which they will likely use to portray Constand as a gold digger after the comedian’s wealth. Cosby’s team will call another witness, a former Temple University employee who worked with Constand, who is expected to testify that Constand told her that she could fabricate a claim of sexual assault to get a payout from Cosby. The judge had barred the witness, Marguerite “Margo” Jackson, from testifying at the first trial.
But the details of the 2006 settlement could also favor of the prosecution — which is likely why Steele got ahead of the defense and wove it into his nearly 75-minute opening statement. Steele said Constand pursued the civil suit in 2005, after Montgomery County prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges. The settlement and accompanying confidentiality agreement kept her silent for a decade, until Montgomery County prosecutors reviewed the allegation following renewed public attention on the case after dozens of women came forward to say Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them. Steele emphasized that the district attorney’s office approached Constand in 2015, not the other way around.
Still, the settlement is tricky for both sides. Again, Cosby’s lawyers are likely to try to paint Constand as an opportunist, but now that jurors have heard the multimillion-dollar figure, they might question why Cosby paid such an eye-popping sum if he were innocent of the charges, as he has maintained. At the same time, the jury might hear that figure and believe Constand already won a very favorable outcome; why send Cosby to prison for potentially the rest of his life if she already benefited?
Cosby’s team will pick up with their opening arguments on Tuesday, but the settlement revelation capped off a wild first day of Cosby’s retrial. A topless protester, who painted her body with the names of women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, was arrested outside the courthouse on Monday. The demonstrator, Nicolle Rochelle, is a former actress who appeared on The Cosby Show as a child.
Opening statements were delayed after Cosby’s team submitted a motion to dismiss juror 11, a white man, after he allegedly told a fellow prospective juror (who was not selected) that he thought Cosby was guilty. The judge reviewed the motion with the defense and prosecution for most of the morning but allowed juror 11 to stay on the panel.