Muse Reporting on popular and fine arts

Bill Cosby’s new trial puts #MeToo to the test

Culture | A lot has changed since the comedian’s mistrial on sexual assault charges last year
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 3/09/18, 01:23 pm

Pretrial motions are underway in Bill Cosby’s re-prosecution, one of the #MeToo era’s first major tests of celebrity sexual assault accusations in front of a jury. Cosby faces charges in the alleged drugging and molestation of Andrea Constand in 2004. A judge declared a mistrial last year when jurors could not reach a verdict in the case. Since then, sexual assault in Hollywood has burst to the forefront of public concerns, starting with accusations by 80 women against movie producer Harvey Weinstein last fall.

In preparation for the trial, the 80-year-old comedian’s lawyers are working to keep his accusers from testifying. As many as 19 other women say Cosby subjected them to abuse similar to what Constand claims happened at the celebrity’s suburban Philadelphia home. Prosecutors want some of the women to tell their stories in court, but the comedian’s lawyers argue their stories would bias the jury.

“Even one would be too prejudicial here,” attorney Becky James said. “The inference is too tempting to say, ‘He must’ve done it here, because he did it before.’” Prosecutors say the other women can help establish a pattern of behavior that would boost Constand’s credibility, something the defense plans to attack vociferously. Cosby’s lawyers have asked the judge to allow them to present in court the terms of a settlement he reached with Constand in 2005. They say the settlement shows Constand was money-hungry and demanded an exorbitant payoff. The defense also claims Cosby could not have committed the assault because he was out of town.

Constand says the alleged assault took place sometime before Jan. 20, 2004, though she can’t remember the exact date. Police didn’t arrest Cosby until Dec. 30, 2015, so if the assault happened before Dec. 30, 2003, it would fall outside the statute of limitations. Many of the women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct would face similar statute problems. While some states will waive the statute of limitations for sexual assault of minors or felony charges such as rape, those statutes often hold in cases where adults say they were the victims of non-felony sexual harassment or abuse.

In the first trial, Judge Steven O’Neill allowed the testimony of just one other woman who claimed Cosby sexually assaulted her. Now both sides are waiting to see whether the judge will change his decision the second time around.

Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Turner Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Turner Frances McDormand (left) walks into the Governors Ball next to Terry Bryant, the man accused of stealing her Academy Award.

Party crasher

The mystery of Frances McDormand’s missing Oscar trophy was solved quickly—an Associated Press videographer caught Terry Bryant, 57, walking out of the Governor’s Ball with it Sunday night. But the mystery of how Bryant got into the party in the first place remains unsolved. His attorney, Daniel Brookman, said Bryant attends Hollywood premieres and award shows as an amateur journalist. News footage showed him walking into the Governor’s Ball with McDormand, and police said he had a ticket to the event. But it’s not clear how he got the ticket. Now he faces charges of felony grand theft, though the judge released him on his own recognizance after Rabbi Naomi Levy testified Bryant played a special role in her faith community. McDormand won best actress at the Academy Awards for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. —L.L.

Fox Searchlight Fox Searchlight Doug Jones in costume for his role in The Shape of Water

Monster maker

To play the fish-man in The Shape of Water, this year’s Oscar winner for best picture, Doug Jones spent three hours having makeup applied each day. For Jones, it was just another day at the office: He has acted in heavy makeup for over 30 years in more than 150 feature films. In some of his more memorable roles, he played the faun in Pan’s Labyrinth and the Silver Surfer in the Fantastic Four franchise. Is Jones worried visual effects will make his career obsolete? “I think people like to watch other people even if that person is playing a monster,” he said in a video for Great Big Story. “They want to connect with a human’s interpretation and performance of that monster.” —L.L.

The gift of music

World-famous cellist Yo Yo Ma performed a special concert for some of the Turpin family siblings who were rescued in mid-January from the squalid California home where their parents allegedly held them captive for years. The seven adult siblings are still being treated for the effects of starvation and abuse at the Corona Regional Medical Center in Southern California, where the concert was held. The six younger siblings are in foster care, CBS News reported. After the private concert March 2, the hospital posted a photo of Ma on Twitter and thanked him for sharing his music with the siblings. Their parents, David and Louise Turpin, remain jailed on torture and abuse charges. —L.L.


After dominating the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang last month, Norway holds the top two spots in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which started Sunday. Musher Joar Olsum leads the race and received $3,000 in gold nuggets for reaching the halfway point in Iditarod, Alaska, first. The race runs from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, and is expected to finish early next week. —L.L.

I’m listening to …

Beckah Shae, a Christian artist whose bebop sound reminds me of Amy Winehouse or Meghan Trainor. Shae also releases parody videos of popular radio tracks, and her recent rewrite of Camila Cabello’s “Havana” as “Hosanna” is approaching 1 million views on YouTube. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

Read more from this writer