Montgomery County, Pa. (YC) – News vans from around the country spent the night parked outside of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas for comedian Bill Cosby’s Trial.
Tuesday morning, an hour before sunrise, news crews from around the nation began preparations for the second day of the comedian’s courtroom appearance. Networks are stationed outside of the complex with tents and reporters from around the country reporting live on various channels including CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News and BBC – which are just a handful of the national networks unloading equipment to stream live from the Philadelphia suburb.
Cosby arrived with a police escort shortly after 8:30 a.m. and at 9:35 a.m. sharp Judge Steven T. O’Neill entered the courtroom, kicking off day two of Cosby on Trial. A number of fiery exchanges between Judge O’Neill and the attorneys flared when the Commonwealth’s first witness, Dr. Patrice Sewell, mother of accuser Kelly Johnson took the witness stand.
Kelly Johnson, a former employee at William Morris in the 1990s accused the comedian of sexually assaulting her in the Bel Air Hotel in 1996. Oddly, Judge O’Neill sided with Cosby’s lawyers on a number of objections – making him quite aggravated towards Deputy District Attorney Kristen Feden when she continued on a line of questioning that Judge O’Neill had ruled against, a whopping SIX times!
Sewell could be described as a witness any attorney, whether a prosecutor or defense attorney would steer clear from. Her answers regularly included hints that she did not recall much … or even know much about her daughter. “I believe she started in the 1990s,” she mentioned when the prosecutor inquired about what year her daughter started her career at William Morris.
Bill Cosby invited Kelly Johnson and her family to attend a performance in Las Vegas. “We were invited to see one of his performances in Las Vegas … after the show we went to meet him,” Sewell continued. “We took photographs and chatted with him for a while.” Sewell explained she went to Las Vegas with her husband and three daughters.” Oddly, Sewell wasn’t able to recall what year the Las Vegas performance was – which has been a main point in Cosby’s defense. The sexual assault allegedly took place 21 years ago.
“I think she was very proud to introduce her family to Mr. Cosby,” Sewell describing her daughter’s demeanor at the Las Vegas event. “She knew that we admired him that we watched the Cosby Show and the family really related to the show.”
When asked when her daughter stopped working at William Morris, Sewell told the court it was around August 1992, when her grandson was born. She then mentioned that her daughter returned to William Morris in 1990 – then correcting herself after a few moments, almost questioning her own answer, stating she returned around 1993 but left again in 1996 following the incident at the Bel Air Hotel with Cosby.
The testimony got rather odd after this point. Sewell started explaining a phone call her daughter made to her in regards to an incident at work with her boss, Tom Illius, Cosby’s agent. “Mommy something is going on I don’t know whats going on – they’re telling lies about me, Mr. Cosby is telling lies about me,” Johnson told her mother. “He’s telling Tom to fire me.” Unfortunately, Tom is unavailable to comment as he passed away in 2011.
Sewell instructed her daughter to get her purse and go to human resources to report the issue, and not to simply walk out.
The prosecutor asked if Sewell had any subsequent conversations with her daughter specifically related to Cosby. After a few moments, Sewell asked “Regarding to the incident that caused her to leave that day? Yes.”
According to Sewell, Kelly met with both parents because she had something to tell them. Sewell described her daughter as anxious, “she kept looking down and up. She looked down and said that Mr. Cosby had asked her to meet him at the Bel Air hotel for lunch to talk about her career,” Sewell added. “When she went to the hotel, instead of being directed to the restaurant she was directed to a bungalow.” According to the testimony, Cosby opened the door in a robe and slippers. When Johnson looked nervous, Sewell stated that Cosby offered her something to drink and a pill that would calm her down. “She tried to refuse but when she did take the pill she put it under her tongue and he walked over to her and asked her to raise her tongue, he wanted to make sure she swallowed that pill,” Sewell mentioned.
Sewell first told Cosby’s defense attorney during cross examination that she had not spoken to her daughter about the incident since the 90’s. When defense attorney Angela Agrusa asked if Sewell watched the press conference with her daughter, she replied that she had not. Defense counsel then asked if she knew that somebody else drafted the speech for the conference, the mother again answered she was not aware. “She [Kelly Johnson] said those were her own words,” the defense asked. Sewell answered “Absolutely.”
Strangely, the mother spoke to her daughter about the incident in 1996 for a few weeks, but then stated that she had not spoken to her about it again for nearly 20-years until she watched the press conference on television.
The defense now had the ammunition they needed – why didn’t Johnson’s mother ask what the lies Cosby was allegedly spreading were, how come she directed her daughter to go to human resources, why didn’t she discuss this alleged sexually assault for nearly two decades, and the major question was – why didn’t she tell her daughter to call the police when she found out she was sexually assaulted?
NEW SUSPECT INTRODUCED
The defense now introduced another suspect – Tom Illius from William Morris, Kelly Johnson’s former boss. According to the lawyers, Johnson filed a workers compensation lawsuit against William Morris in 1996, which her mother claims she was unaware of. “You knew she had a lawyer, right?” the defense asked. “No,” Sewell responded. “She had no lawyer.”
Sewell then recanted and stated that she didn’t have a lawyer that she personally hired, hinting that there was an attorney hired from somewhere. “Was Mr. Cosby nice to you,” referencing back to the Las Vegas event. “Yes, very kind.” Sewell mentioned.
The defense then questioned her daughters relationship with her former boss, asking “Kelly in the early 1990s was very unhappy with her job, correct?” Sewell simply replied “No.” When the defense asked if she ever complained, Sewell told the court “No. But Tom was never an easy person to work for.”
“EXACTLY!” the defense shouted. “She was so tired of how Tom treated her,” the defense continued. “She didn’t want to work for him when she returned from maternity leave.” Sewell explained that Tom told her daughter that she was not permitted to return to work due to the extremely long break Johnson took during her maternity leave. When asked if Tom was difficult, Sewell told the court that “She said Tom was not an easy person to work for.”
When the defense asked Sewell if she knew that Tom was an overly abusive man, the prosecution objected stating that the question was “beyond the scope.” Judge O’Neill stated he wanted to explore other possibilities of why Johnson might’ve left William Morris – a great play as the next line of questions showed that Johnson might’ve had other reasons for parting ways with William Morris.
“Did your daughter tell you Tom was abusive, told her to lose weight and made sexual and elude comments to her?” Sewell told the defense, “never.”
THE RUNDOWN – DEFENSE v. VICTIM’S MOTHER
- Defense: “But you knew in the past that’s how he treated her, correct?”
- Sewell: “No.”
- Defense: “She had no other stressors when she left William Morris?”
- Sewell: “Well, she was a single parent, whatever stressors that may bring.”
- Defense: “Didn’t she call you about a conversation she had with Tom worried that she might be getting fired?”
- Sewell: “No.”
- Defense: She had been reprimanded in the past at William Morris, right?”
- Sewell: “I don’t recall ever knowing that.”
…. the prosecution then asked Judge O’Neill to step to the sidebar – which O’Neill denied, stating “we need to know if there are any other reasons to why she left. I need to know this.”
- Defense: “She was originally working with Tom before becoming a floater and then returning back to Tom again, correct?”
- Sewell: “That was the nature of the work and the assignments of the work in my understanding.”
- Defense: “Did she say she had been confronted by Tom for socializing with Mr. Cosby and this was the second time she was called out for socializing with William Morris clients?”
- Sewell: “No.”
- Defense: “Was she put on leave for having been socializing and ultimately having a child with a William Morris client?”
…. the prosecution then objected, which Judge O’Neill sustained.
- Defense: “You’re sitting here today talking about an emotional phone call you got from your daughter over 21 years ago. You don’t know what day or month that was?”
- Sewell: “No.”
- Defense: “Over the last 15-20 years or last few weeks you didn’t discuss the call?”
- Sewell: “No.”
- Defense: “You don’t have any personal knowledge of what happened between Kelly Johnson and Mr. Cosby?”
- Sewell: “I was not there, no.”
- Defense: “You didn’t tell her to call the police right?”
- Sewell: “When?”
- Defense: “When she called you.”
- Sewell: “When she said she might be fired?”
- Defense: “Yes.”
- Sewell: “No.”
- Defense: “You didn’t tell her to go to the police after she told you she might’ve been hurt by Mr. Cosby?”
- Sewell: “No. I was there with her father.”
- Defense: “You love your daughter don’t you?”
- Sewell: “Very much.”
- Defense: “As a mother you just want your child to be happy?”
- Sewell: “Absolutely”
- Defense: “You’re here today because you want to help her out right?”
- Sewell: “I’m here to tell what I know about what happened to my daughter.”
- Defense: “And what you know with all due respect is what your daughter has told you correct?”
- Sewell: “Yes.”
- Defense: “You weren’t there to protect her or to even see if what she told you was correct right?”
- Sewell: “Yes.”
At 1:32 p.m. the defense asked for a mistrial – stating that the attorney from William Morris wasn’t able to even recall information from his own notes. Judge O’Neill denied the motion.
Additional testimonies will be provided shortly as we are unable to transmit information from the courtroom.
(Reporting by Nik Hatziefstathiou; Editing by Derick Dilsworth)