Bill Cosby sexual assault retrial set to begin in Pennsylvania

Bill Cosby 80 is charged with drugging and molesting a woman in 2004

Bill Cosby paid Andrea Constand almost $3.4 million in a 2006 settlement, a Pennsylvania district attorney revealed during open statements on the first day of Cosby's retrial Monday.

Cosby's camp fought to keep the size of the secret 2006 settlement out of the comedian's first trial in Pennsylvania a year ago, but his new defense team reversed course and plans to use it this time around to argue Constand fabricated her claims for financial gain.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt praised deputies for their quick action but urged court officials to increase security. As he approached, a former actress on The Cosby Show staged a topless protest.

The allegations against Cosby stretch back more than a decade, but the trial takes place in a cultural moment vastly different from the one in which the first trial took place a year ago.

Her protest came ahead of opening statements in a case that pits Cosby against a former Temple University women's basketball official who says the comedian drugged and molested her in 2004.

The prosecutor also pointed to testimony that Cosby himself gave under oath in 2006 in a deposition to lawyers in the civil suit with Constand.

That sum, hidden for more than a decade behind a confidentiality agreement signed by both parties, was revealed for the first time Monday by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele in his opening statement to jurors at Cosby's retrial in Norristown.

O'Neill has ruled that Cosby's financial payment to Constand can be brought into the public for the first time at the retrial after Cosby lifted his objections - although experts say the disclosure of the payment could also hurt Cosby if jurors interpret the money as an admission that he did something wrong.

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But the second trial is likely to be dramatically different from the first when opening statements begin at the courthouse in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown. He faces three charges of aggravated indecent assault relating to the alleged assault of Constand in 2004, and with each count carrying a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, a guilty verdict could see the 80-year-old spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.

Almost every potential juror questioned for the case this time knew about #MeToo.

There is much riding on the outcome of the case for Cosby.

"We're very confident that you all will be able to do justice in this case", Steele told the jury. Details of deliberations between O'Connor and Cosby will not be released as evidence at trial, as per a ruling by Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O'Neill, but O'Connor could be called as a witness. Cosby has denied all allegations.

The testimony of Constand will be central to the retrial - as it was in the first trial. The charges were filed just days before the statute of limitations was due to expire.

USA Today said that the majority of Monday's trial was spent behind closed doors discussing whether or not a member of the juror had improperly blabbed about the case before the trial started.

Michael R. Sisak is an Associated Press writer.

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