The testimony of an expert witness in the Bill Cosby trial triggered courtroom fireworks on Friday afternoon. A lawyer on the Bill Cosby defense team appeared to be outraged in the Philadelphia courtroom after hearing the expert testimony of Dr. Veronique Valliere, and immediately demanded that the judge declare a mistrial because of it.
Valliere has spent over 30 years treating hundreds and even thousands of people impacted by sexual assault, both victims and offenders. As People reports, she is also the owner of Pennsylvania’s Valliere Associates Inc. Acting as an expert witness for the prosecution in the Bill Cosby trial, she testified about common post-sexual assault victim behavior.
According to Dr. Valliere, an array of symptoms ranging from confusion to memory loss to delayed reporting are very common after people are sexually victimized by acquaintances or people familiar to them. She added that the use of “intoxicants” in sexual assaults seem to exacerbate these issues in victims.
“We have expectations that are misguided about how people respond to traumatic events, especially sexual assault. Much of that comes from the fact we misunderstand what sexual assault is. Most of us have this expectation most rapes are violent, involve strangers etc. Most times it’s not violent. It’s perpetrated by somebody you know and trust. Victims are confused by what happened to them and they don’t necessarily want to go through this process, and they don’t want to go to law enforcement.”
According to enraged Bill Cosby defense attorney Brian McMonagle, Dr. Veronique Valliere crossed the line with her testimony. In a scathing address to the judge, he argued that Dr. Valliere’s words were tantamount to instructing the jury to reach a certain verdict in the Cosby case.
“This so-called expert is … telling this jury that this offender is guilty.”
McMonagle went on to demand that Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill declare a mistrial based on the nature of the expert witness’ testimony. That request would ultimately be denied.
The judge in the Bill Cosby trial listened to arguments from both the prosecution and defense teams before ruling that a mistrial was not indicated. According to Judge O’Neill, Dr. Veronique Valliere is permitted under a Pennsylvania state law created following the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State sexual abuse scandal.
The relatively new law gives prosecutors the authority to consult expert witnesses to explain post-sexual assault victim behavior and for those expert witnesses to testify in open court.
“This is your argument and I understand your argument. I understand the passion from which you bring it. However, it is this court’s opinion that the testimony so far is not violating the statute.”
Prior to the start of the Bill Cosby trial, the comedian’s legal team had attempted (and failed) to have the prosecution’s expert witness’ testimony completely excluded from the case.
Seventy-nine-year-old Bill Cosby is currently facing three counts of aggravated indecent assault (stemming from a single incident) related to a sexual encounter with now-44-year-old alleged victim Andrea Constand. Constand, a former Temple University employee, alleges that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in early 2004. Andrea Constand is just one of dozens of women who have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault in incidents allegedly going back decades.
If convicted, Bill Cosby faces 10 years in prison for each count.
Cosby has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges levied against him, but settled out of court in a civil case related to the same allegations back in 2005. In that civil case, Bill Cosby paid an undisclosed amount to Andrea Constand in exchange for her silence. Depositions in the civil case were later utilized as part of the criminal case built against the comedian and actor.
Bill Cosby has repeatedly argued that any sexual contact that took place between himself and Andrea Constand in 2004 was consensual. She alleges that she consented to nothing, and that Bill Cosby drugged her.
Bill Cosby’s lawyers also reportedly tried to introduce evidence related to Andrea Constand’s sexuality during the ongoing criminal trial. As NBC News reports, alleged Bill Cosby victim Andrea Constand told law enforcement officers back in 2005 that she is gay. She also told police that she had a boyfriend in her teens and sexual contact with a male in her late 20s. According to a motion filed by Bill Cosby’s defense team, the comedian didn’t know that Constand was gay until he was later informed by police.
Leading up to the Bill Cosby trial, his legal team reportedly filed a motion to allow them to introduce evidence regarding Constand’s sexuality, arguing that because she didn’t tell Cosby she was gay, she was guilty of “conceal[ment] and deceit.”
The District Attorney’s office reportedly quickly squashed the motion, calling it “victim shaming” and a violation of Pennsylvania law that prohibits bringing up the sexual past of rape victims.
“Defendant seems to desire that those with a sexual orientation different from his should readily identify themselves — perhaps with a scarlet letter — at their first encounter with another person,” the DA’s office wrote. Defendant puts a new twist on an old argument: that because Ms. Constand did not reveal this most personal detail about her life she must have been asking for defendant to drug and sexually assault her.”
As TMZ reports, it’s possible that the Bill Cosby defense team dodged a bullet when the court denied their motion to introduce evidence regarding Ms. Constand’s sexuality. After all, his defense is that the pair’s sexual encounter was consensual, something that becomes decidedly less likely if Andrea Constand is gay.
Constand, who took the stand earlier this week, has long argued that Bill Cosby drugged her the night of the alleged sexual assault. During his civil deposition, Cosby admitted to stockpiling Quaaludes with the sole purpose of giving them to “young women he intended to have sexual contact with,” reports Daily Mail. According to Cosby’s deposition, he never gave the powerful drugs to anyone without their knowledge and consent.
Bill Cosby claimed that he gave Andrea Constand nothing stronger than a Benadryl the night she claims he sexually assaulted her. However, prosecutors have presented toxicology reports at the trial (expected to last two weeks in total), which showed no traces of the allergy medication.
[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]