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Bill Cosby deposition reveals calculated pursuit of young women

  • The New York Times
  • 19th July, 2015 07:17:44 PM
  • Print news
Bill Cosby deposition reveals calculated pursuit of young women

He was not above seducing a young model by showing interest in her father’s cancer. He promised other women his mentorship and career advice before pushing them for sex acts. And he tried to use financial sleight of hand to keep his wife from finding out about his serial philandering.


Bill Cosby admitted to all of this and more over four days of intense questioning 10 years ago at a Philadelphia hotel, where he defended himself in a deposition for a lawsuit filed by a young woman who accused him of drugging and molesting her.


Even as Cosby denied he was a sexual predator who assaulted many women, he presented himself in the deposition as an unapologetic, cavalier playboy, someone who used a combination of fame, apparent concern and powerful sedatives in a calculated pursuit of young women — a profile at odds with the popular image he so long enjoyed, that of father figure and public moralist.


In the deposition, which Cosby has for years managed to keep private but was obtained by The New York Times, the entertainer comes across as alternately annoyed, mocking, occasionally charming and sometimes boastful, often blithely describing sexual encounters in graphic detail.


He talked of the 19-year-old aspiring model who sent him her poem and ended up on his sofa, where, Cosby said, she pleasured him with lotion.


He spoke with casual disregard about ending a relationship with another model so he could pursue other women. “Moving on,” was his phrase.


He suggested he was skilled in picking up the nonverbal cues that signal a woman’s consent.


“I think I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them,” he said.


Through it all, his manner was largely one of casual indifference.


At one point in the first day of questioning, Dolores M. Troiani, the lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, Andrea Constand, a young woman who worked at Temple University as a basketball manager, seemed struck by Cosby’s jocular manner.


“I think you’re making light of a very serious situation,” she said, to which Cosby replied: “That may very well be.”


Interest in Cosby’s deposition grew this month when a federal judge unsealed a 62-page memorandum of law in the case, which had been settled in 2006. The memorandum contained excerpts from the deposition, including Cosby’s acknowledgment that he had obtained quaaludes as part of his effort to have sex with women.


The parties have been prohibited from releasing the memorandum because of a confidentiality clause that was part of the settlement agreement, but the deposition itself was never sealed. This month, Constand’s lawyer asked the court to lift the confidentiality clause so her client would be free to release the nearly 1,000-page deposition transcript. The Times later learned that the transcript was already publicly available through a court reporting service.


Cosby has never been charged with a crime and has repeatedly denied the accusations of sexual assault, now leveled by dozens of women. David Brokaw, Cosby’s publicist, did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday. Troiani declined to comment. In three suits, women who accused Cosby of sexual misconduct are pursuing civil claims against him. In addition, the Los Angeles police have said they are reviewing a complaint of a sexual nature against Cosby.


While Cosby described encounters with many women through the course of his deposition, it is through his long and detailed descriptions of his relationship with Constand, who is much younger, that Cosby’s attitudes, proclivities and approach to women are most clearly revealed. Constand was present for at least some of Cosby’s testimony in the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia.


An Interest Piqued

First spotting her at Temple University in the early 2000s, Cosby said he felt romantic interest immediately (“She’s good-looking”), and began a relationship that led, in his telling, to dinners and more.


Asked how he wooed her, Cosby, who has been married since 1964, responded: “Inviting her to my house, talking to her about personal situations dealing with her life, growth, education.”


He painted his relationship with Constand as one of mentor and mentee, casting himself in the role of an experienced guide and offering her the benefit of his contacts, fame and experience.


At times he described becoming frustrated after Constand failed to follow his advice, such as when he wanted her to pursue her interest in sports broadcasting by calling someone and she did not. “Here’s a mentor, Bill Cosby, who is in the business, Bill Cosby, who happens to know something about what to do and Andrea is not picking up on it,” he said.


Constand ultimately went to the police to complain of Cosby’s behavior, but in his telling, his seduction was one of persistence and patience.


Early on in his courtship, he arranged an intimate meal alone with her at his Pennsylvania home, complete with Cognac, dimmed lights and a fire, he said. At one point he led her to his back porch, out of sight from his chef. “I take her hair and I pull it back and I have her face like this,” he said. “And I’m talking to her ...And I talked to her about relaxing, being strong. And I said to her, come in, meaning her body.”


But the two remained inches apart, he said, and he did not try to kiss her because he did not sense she wanted him to. Nevertheless, at the next dinner he said they had what he described as a “sexual moment,” short of intercourse. He described her afterward as having “a glow.”


Expounding on his philosophy about sex, Cosby said he tended to refrain from intercourse because he did not want women to fall in love with him. To him, he said, the act of sexual intercourse “is something that I feel the woman will succumb to more of a romance and more of a feeling, not love, but it’s deeper than a playful situation.” As far as he and Constand went, he said, they were “playing sex, we’re playing, petting, we’re playing.”


Was he in love with her? “No.”


Yet the association endured for a few years, until one night at his Pennsylvania home, when Constand said Cosby drugged and molested her.


Cosby said he gave her one and a half tablets of Benadryl to relieve stress, they kissed and had sexual contact. Her lawyer said she believed it was a much more powerful drug.


Some time later, after Constand had moved home to Canada, Cosby spoke with Constand’s mother on the telephone. The mother, he said, was upset about what her daughter said Cosby had done, describing the experience as “a mother’s nightmare.”


In the deposition, he said he was worried that Constand’s mother would think of him as a “dirty old man.”


During the call, Cosby told the deposing lawyers, he wanted Constand to tell her mother “about the orgasm” so that she would realize it was consensual.


“Tell your mother about the orgasm. Tell your mother how we talked,” he said he remembered thinking.


Subsequently, concerned that Constand and her mother might seek to embarrass him, he said he offered to help pay for Constand’s further education. Years earlier, he offered to reward another woman, Therese Serignese, whom he had met at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1976, with money as a bonus for good grades.


Hiding His Behavior

It is difficult to say to what extent Cosby’s wife, Camille, was aware of her husband’s womanizing, though it was certainly clear to her by 1997, when Cosby acknowledged an affair. Mrs. Cosby suggested at the time that there had been marital problems but they had put them behind them.


Still, in the deposition, Cosby, 78, described going to some lengths to hide his behavior, blocking a magazine article to avoid publicity and funneling money to one woman through his agent so “Mrs. Cosby” wouldn’t find out.


In the case of Constand, who never sought any funds, Cosby said he imagined his wife would have known he was helping with her education. But, he said, “My wife would not know it was because Andrea and I had had sex and that Andrea was now very, very upset and that she decided that she would like to go to school.”


While Cosby insisted the only drug he had given Constand was Benadryl, he was open about his access in the 1970s to quaaludes, a sedative also popular as a party drug.


He said he obtained seven prescriptions for them over two to three years from a doctor in Los Angeles, ostensibly for a sore back but in reality to give to women.


He admitted to giving young women quaaludes at that time “the same as a person would say have a drink,” he said, but not without their knowledge.


Though he portrayed the drug-taking and sex as consensual, Cosby — when asked whether Serignese was in a position to consent to sexual intercourse after he gave her quaaludes in 1976 — said: “I don’t know.”


Joseph Cammarata, a lawyer for Serignese and two other women who are suing Cosby for defamation, said of the deposition: “This information is important because it sheds light on the private practices of a man who holds himself out as a public moralist.”


A Life of Wealth

During the questioning, Cosby cast himself as a sensitive and attentive supporter of Constand, though his tone changed when addressing Constand in the present tense.


Asked by Constand’s lawyer about how he felt when Constand cried during her own deposition, Cosby was unsparing: “I think Andrea is a liar and I know she’s a liar because I was there. I was there.”


And he could be dispassionate in recalling former relationships. With a woman named Beth Ferrier, a model he met in the 1980s, he recalled inquiring after her career and her father, who had died of cancer.


“Did you ask her those questions because you wanted to have sexual contact with her?” Troiani asked.


“Yes,” Cosby responded.


Still, he said he viewed himself as a good person, worthy of trust, and chivalrous in his desire to never tell others about the women with whom he had sex.


“I am a man, the only way you will hear about who I had sex with is from the person I had it with,” he said.


In some passages, Cosby offered a glimpse into a life long insulated by perks and wealth. Some idiosyncrasies are revealed, like his penchant for sweatpants (he had at least 100, he said), how he used the name Seymour Rapaport as an alias in the 1970s and 1980s when he traveled, and how many of his employees signed confidentiality agreements.


In the deposition, Cosby described sexual liaisons — he sometimes calls them rendezvous — with at least five women, and having a “romantic” interest in two more, in locations like Denver, Las Vegas and New York and Pennsylvania, in hotels or in one of his homes.


In the court case, 13 women came forward with anonymous sworn statements to support Constand, saying that they, too, had been molested in some way by Cosby. But they never had a chance to pursue their claims in court because, six months after the fourth and final day of his deposition, Cosby settled the case with Constand on undisclosed terms. His deposition was filed away, another document in a settled court case, until now.