Many reports from the Bill Cosby trial have focused on the testimony of the woman who alleges he drugged and sexually assaulted her (Cosby has repeatedly denied the allegations). But there's another person at the trial who is drawing headlines for her behavior — his lawyer. Cosby's lawyer cross examined Andrea Constand's mother and badgered her, Jezebel reported, questioning if she even knew her own daughter.
Cosby attorney Kathleen Bliss' actions seem to have struck a nerve. First, she interviewed the accuser, Andrea Constand. But just as remarkable was a three-hour interrogation of the woman's mother, Gianna Constand. The cross-examination ended in tears, accusations of bullying against the lawyer, and Gianna Constand telling her, "Don't talk to me like that."
CNN reported that Gianna Constand began to cry when asked how she knew what Cosby had done to her daughter. "Because he told me," she responded with tears streaming down her face.
While that might have been difficult, Bliss' questioning veered into even more questionable territory. She suggested in her questions — which were many times objected to by the prosecution — that Gianna Constand might not even know her own daughter.
Jezebel reported the final exchange in the first part of the cross-examination. “You and your husband raised them to be good girls," Bliss reportedly said.
"Definitely," was Gianna Constand's response.
"So it’s fair to say that ... it would have broke your heart to know ... that your daughter Andrea was having affair with a married man," Bliss said, resulting in Gianna Constand denying that her daughter was and the prosecution objecting. The judge sustained the objection.
Immediately after, Bliss went in again on the same line of questioning. "You didn’t raise your daughter to have an affair with a married man," Bliss stated. The prosecution objected and once again it was sustained.
The meat of Gianna Constand's testimony offered the same account as at last year's trial. Her daughter told her about the assault and she called Cosby to hear the details directly. "He said, ‘Oh I felt like I was a dirty, old, perverted man’ and then, near the end of the conversation, as before I feel like he surrendered and he admitted to me that he was a sick man,” Gianna Constand told the court.
In cross-examination, Bliss tried to argue that there is a financial incentive for Andrea Constand to make the accusation against Cosby. Bliss suggested that she was going to get fired from Temple University, but her mom denied it. Bliss also suggested that Gianna Constand got a new house after the daughter received a financial payout from Cosby in 2015. Gianna Constand also denied this.
"This isn’t about money, Ms. Bliss!” Gianna Constand said.
Andrea Constand was also accused of being in it for the money. "Did you ever fabricate a scheme to falsely accuse him for money?" another defense lawyer asked. She answered, "No, sir."
Cosby is being charged in the retrial with indecent assault charges. This time around the court has agreed to allow "prior bad acts" witnesses. There is no forensic evidence, so this is seen as necessary for a conviction.
So far, Heidi Thomas, Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney, Lise-Lotte Lublin, and supermodel Janice Dickinson have testified that Cosby allegedly used drugs or wine to put them to sleep and then sexually assaulted them. The only option for the defense is to find holes in their stories or try to damage the witnesses.
Bliss' cross-examination technique may not be unusual for a defense lawyer, but given the sensitive issues at stake, the treatment of the mother of the accused is garnering extra attention.