PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby's lawyers admitted Monday that they wrongly accused prosecutors in his criminal sexual-assault case of withholding evidence — an assertion seething prosecutors blasted as "outrageous and reckless."
Members of Cosby's retooled defense team acknowledged in a court filing that they made the bold, headline-grabbing claim last month without realizing prosecutors had already told Cosby's former lawyer about interviewing a woman who cast doubt on his accuser.
Prosecutors said the former Cosby lawyer, Brian McMonagle, contacted them the day after the Cosby team made the allegations and that he confirmed being aware that the prosecution interviewed Marguerite Jackson before Cosby's first trial, which ended in a hung jury last June. A retrial is scheduled to begin April 2.
Cosby's lawyers claimed in a Jan. 26 court filing that prosecutors failed to disclose the interview until recently and that detectives had destroyed their notes. Prosecutors said they told McMonagle last year that no notes were taken.
"Facts matter," prosecutors wrote in their rebuttal, filed around the same time Monday that Cosby's lawyers were conceding their mistake.
"The facts and the truth were easily ascertainable," prosecutors said, but Cosby and his lawyers "just did not care to find them."
Instead, prosecutors said, Cosby's lawyers appeared to be more interested in shifting the narrative about the case than focusing on the truth.
Jackson, who worked with Cosby accuser Andrea Constand at Temple University more than a decade ago, said Constand told her sometime in 2003 or 2004 that she was not sexually assaulted but could make up allegations to sue and get money.
Constand told jurors at last year's trial that Cosby drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby has denied the allegations.
Judge Steven O'Neill blocked Cosby's lawyers from calling Jackson to the witness stand at his first trial, ruling her testimony would be hearsay after Constand testified that she did not know the woman. O'Neill also is handling Cosby's retrial.
Cosby's spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, later read a statement from Jackson to reporters on the courthouse steps. Jackson recalled Constand commenting to her about setting up a "high-profile person" after they saw a television news report about a celebrity who was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women.
Jackson said Constand claimed something similar happened to her. When pressed, Jackson said, Constand backed off and said she could "say it happened and file charges, file a civil suit, get the money, go to school and open up a business," Jackson said.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.