Prosecutors preparing to try actor Bill Cosby on sexual-assault charges want to use not only his explosive deposition testimony about getting quaaludes to give to women before sex but also his riffs on trying to slip women the supposed aphrodisiac Spanish fly.
In a court filing Thursday, they say the comments show his familiarity with date rape drugs and should not be dismissed as “merely jokes.” They quote Cosby making Spanish fly references in his 1991 book Childhood and in an interview that year with talk show host Larry King.
Spanish fly is made from a green beetle called the Spanish fly, in the family of blister beetles, and has been sold as an aphrodisiac. In the book, Cosby says he and his adolescent friends needed the potion to get girls interested in them.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in the court motion that Cosby “may cling to the cloak of comedy to avoid culpability.”
“(But) these are powerful and damaging admissions,” Steele wrote, “in two instances coming straight from the defendant’s mouth and in the other from the tip of his pen.”
A hearing on the trial evidence is scheduled for Monday in suburban Philadelphia.
Cosby, once known as America’s Dad for his beloved portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on his top-ranked The Cosby Show in the 1980s and ’90s, is accused of drugging and molesting a Temple University basketball team manager, Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. He’s charged with felony sexual assault. Dozens of women have raised similar claims against him, but Montgomery Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neill has ruled that only one of them can testify at the June 5 trial.
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Steele argued that the Spanish fly stories should be admitted in keeping with a Pennsylvania court ruling that allowed a jury to hear rap lyrics about a plan to kill someone to suggest the person’s state of mind. Defence lawyer Brian McMonagle declined to comment on the motion.
In the book, Cosby lays out a story about the boys first trying to mix a Spanish fly powder in a drink and then sprinkling it on cookies they offered girls at a party. In the end, it failed to have the desired effect. On the talk show, Cosby told King that boys “from age 11 on up to death” sought out Spanish fly.
“And she’s yours,” King said.
“Hello, America,” Cosby replied.
Cosby, in the decade-old deposition, said he got seven prescriptions for quaaludes in the 1970s, intending not to use them but to give to women he was pursuing for sex. The powerful sedatives were banned in 1983, and Cosby said he no longer had them when he met Constand 20 years later.
Defence lawyers say any reference to quaaludes should therefore be excluded from the trial. They also want the judge to exclude Cosby’s deposition testimony about what he calls a long string of consensual affairs and sexual liaisons.
Cosby, who has been married for decades, sat for the deposition after Constand sued him for defamation and sexual battery in 2005. He later settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum. He has pleaded not guilty in the criminal case, which was filed in late 2015.
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they give permission, which Constand has done.