So far in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial, the prosecution's case has been strong, stronger perhaps than the defense had expected. In a potential shift in strategy, Cosby's team has now opened the door to putting the longtime comedian on the stand to defend himself -- something they had not intended to do at the trial's start.

“Nothing is ever off the table in a trial of this magnitude,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt told reporters outside the courthouse on Friday. "You have to look at all your options. In a ballgame, things change and players are taken out and sometimes the star player plays and sometimes he doesn’t.” Up to this point, Cosby's team had been quite clear that he would not be taking the stand.

But a combination of events this week may have seriously damaged Cosby's chances at an acquittal:

  • On Tuesday and Wednesday (June 6–7), jurors heard compelling testimony from the woman who has accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her, Andrea Constand.
  • On Thursday the prosecution read into evidence a deposition Cosby gave to police in 2005 and 2006 detailing the encounter from Cosby's point of view. In it, Cosby confessed to giving Constand pills -- he says it was merely Benadryl, though Cosby has previously admitted to buying quaaludes, a much stronger sedative, as part of a plan to seduce women -- and to "necking" and "petting." He claims it was consensual, part of an ongoing romantic relationship.
  • Another detail revealed in the now-public deposition was that Cosby apologized to Constand's mother, though not, he says, for any kind of assault. Cosby said he was embarrassed, that he didn't want to be perceived as a "dirty old man." "I apologized to this woman," he told police in the deposition. "But my apology was, 'My God, I'm in trouble with these people because this is an old man and their young daughter and the mother sees this'."
  • Friday's prosecution witness was Dr. Veronique Valliere, an expert on the behavior of sexual assault victims. The defense had tried earlier to undermine Constand's story by noting that she did not notify police for a year. Valliere countered that point, explaining that victims frequently do not react immediately as they process what happened to them -- particularly when the assaulter is famous. “Victims want to forget about it and pretend it didn’t happen,” Valliere said. “If it’s a well-known person, the victim takes on a lot of responsibility for that person’s reputation.”

Added together, this may force a change in tactics for the defense. Once the prosecution rests, which is expected shortly, the defense will present its case. Whether to call their own star witness is a decision they must make soon. Court watchers guess that the trial may wrap sooner than expected, perhaps as early as the middle of next week.

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