April 19, 2018 / 11:31 AM / 7 months ago

Cosby sex assault retrial to go to jury next week: judge

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - Prosecutors wrapped up their sexual assault case against comedian Bill Cosby on Thursday as experts offered conflicting testimony about the drugs he is accused of giving a then-friend before allegedly raping her.

Actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, arrives for his sexual assault retrial case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 19, 2018. Mark Makela/Pool via Reuters

Judge Steven O'Neill said he anticipated Cosby's fate would be in the hands of the jury next week. Lawyers said deliberations could begin as early as late Monday in an attempt to reach a unanimous verdict, which eluded the jury in Cosby's first trial. It ended in a mistrial in June.

Andrea Constand, 45, contends the former star of "The Cosby Show" gave her three little blue pills he said would help her relax and then sexually assaulted her at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004.

Cosby, 80, says any sexual contact with Constand was consensual. He could face 10 years in prison if convicted.

The questions of what drug Cosby gave Constand and the effects it had are central to the case.

Timothy Rohrig, a forensic toxicologist from Wichita, Kansas, called as the final prosecution witness, testified about the effects of Benadryl and Quaaludes, which Cosby in a 2005 deposition said he used to seduce women. Rohrig said the pills could have left Constand feeling incapacitated.

Constand testified last week that after swallowing the pills she experienced double vision, slurred her words, had dry mouth, and her legs felt "rubbery," even paralyzed. She was an administrator for the women's basketball team at Cosby's alma mater, Temple University.

"All these symptoms she described, and the timing of the symptoms, were consistent with the ingestion of diphenhydramine," Rohrig said, using the generic name for Benadryl. The drug is commonly used for allergies.

The same symptoms also could have been caused by Quaaludes, which additionally make the user "very sleepy," he testified at Montgomery Count Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Quaaludes are a sedative.

About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them, sometimes after plying them with drugs or alcohol in a series of alleged attacks dating back decades. Constand's charge is the only one recent enough to be the subject of criminal prosecution.

Cosby's defense team, which has portrayed Constand as a money-hungry con artist, aimed to cast doubt on Constand's claims the pills left her so impaired she could not resist.

A toxicologist testifying for the defense, Dr. Harry Milman, called Benadryl "one of the safest drugs on the market" and said Quaaludes were not available in the Philadelphia area in 2004.

Prosecutor M. Stewart Ryan, during cross-examination, said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele prosecuted a drug case in 2002 that resulted in the seizure of thousands of illegal Quaaludes.

Writing by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

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