Cosby defense team hits accusers on monetary gains for victims

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – The defense team at comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial on Thursday pressed another accuser for details about a supposed $100 million that lawyer Gloria Allred is seeking to compensate his alleged victims.

Cosby, 80, best known from his role as “America’s Dad” on television’s “The Cosby Show,” is standing for his second criminal trial on allegations of drugging and sexually assaulting former friend and colleague Andrea Constand, 45, in 2004.

Five of the 50 other women who have made similar accusations – all cases too old to prosecute – are being permitted by Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill to tell their stories to the jury.

Lead defense counsel Thomas Mesereau on Thursday cross-examined witness Janice Baker-Kinney, who testified that she was drugged and raped by Cosby in Reno in 1982. He asked what her ties were with Allred, a well-known women’s rights lawyer in sexual abuse cases who has attended the trial in a suburban Philadelphia courthouse daily.

Baker-Kinney, a former bartender, said she had used Allred only on an unpaid basis to screen media requests for interviews.

“If she would put that $100 million fund together, she would get 30 percent or more,” said Mesereau, pursuing a line of questioning he has maintained since the start of the trial on Monday.

Actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, arrives for the fourth day of his sexual assault retrial case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 12, 2018. Mark Makela/Pool via Reuters

Baker-Kinney said she did not know anything about such a fund, similar to the answers given by the other women who have testified, including actress Heidi Thomas and aspiring actress Chelan Lasha.

Allred, who also has represented several women accusing President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, told Reuters that she hoped district attorney Kevin Steele would call her as a witness in the Cosby trial to clear up the $100 million question.

Allred referred to a December 2014 statement in which she lamented that the statute of limitations prevented most of the 50 Cosby accusers from seeking legal redress and she suggested he set up a $100 million compensation fund for them.

The three other accusers who have testified so far told stories of being drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby in the 1980s, and Constand will likely tell a similar story of her 2004 encounter with Cosby.

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In the first trial, which ended in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury, only one other accuser besides Constand was allowed to testify.

Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta and Barbara Goldberg; editing by Cynthia Osterman and G Crosse

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