As Bill Cosby’s retrial got underway Monday, one new detail was revealed: the comedian paid accuser Andrea Constand $3.38 million to settle her 2005 lawsuit against him.
Constand had accused Cosby of drugging and molesting her while at his home in 2004. While the settlement itself was publicly known, the amount had not been previously disclosed.
Cosby reportedly agreed to reveal the number for the first time during pretrial discussions, and the Montgomery County district attorney representing Constand, Kevin Steele, referred to the settlement in his opening statements on Monday.
The settlement and the price tag tied to it are expected to factor heavily into each side’s case.
In his opening statement, Steele noted that Constand only filed the 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby after Montgomery County prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges. He highlighted that the settlement and its confidential nature prevented Constand from speaking about the incident for the last decade. Since other women have come forward accusing Cosby of sexual assault, the district attorney’s office reportedly approached Constand in 2015 to include her in the investigation that led to the current criminal case.
With five other accusers now permitted to testify in the retrial, Steele reportedly plans to demonstrate that all of these incidents are connected, part of a “plan, scheme, or design of the defendant,” which support Constand’s account that she was tricked and abused by Cosby.
While Steele may not heavily rely on the seven-figure settlement in his arguments, the revelation of its amount could lead the jurors to question why Cosby would agree to such a large figure if he were in fact innocent.
The defense will give its opening statement on Tuesday. In it, Cosby’s lawyers are expected to use the settlement to its advantage in a number of related ways.
First, rather than framing the large settlement as an admission of guilt, it is demonstrative of Constand’s interest in financial gain. A witness, who was not permitted to testify in the original trial, is expected to allege that Constand once told her “she could make money by falsely claiming she had been molested by a prominent person,” reports The New York Times.
With this testimony, it is expected that the defense will seek to paint a picture of Constand that portrays her as a golddigger and schemer who was only after Cosby’s wealth.
The defense will also be likely to emphasize the fact that Constand maintained contact with Cosby even after the incident and question why it took her close to a year to report it to the police.
Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury last June.