Cosby lawyers slam accuser as 'pathological liar' at trial

NORRISTOWN, Pa., April 24 (Reuters) - Defense lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby attacked the credibility of women who testified against him at his sexual assault trial, singling out accuser Andrea Constand during closing arguments on Tuesday as a "pathological liar."

Cosby, the once-beloved comedian and TV dad, is on trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Constand, 45, a former administrator of the Temple University women's basketball team, at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.

Defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau picked apart what he called inconsistent statements by Constand, reminding the jury she continued to call Cosby after the alleged assault. He declared Cosby "must be acquitted on all counts."

"He made some mistakes for sure, but he is no criminal," Mesereau told the jury at Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. "This is a very serious moment for an 80-year-old man who had a very successful career and is looking at absolute ruin."

Co-counsel Kathleen Bliss then assailed the five other witnesses who said they, like Constand, had been drugged and violated by Cosby, saying it was unfair to Cosby that they were "digging up stuff from three decades ago."

She said the five Cosby accusers were fabricating stories in search of money and fame that would come with leveling such allegations against Cosby, a comedian known for clean material and whose television career was based on a wholesome image.

"What is this case about? Money, press conferences, TV shows, salacious coverage, ratings. Sex sells," Bliss said.

In all, some 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault going back decades, though only Constand's case was recent enough for criminal prosecution.

This is his second trial, after a deadlocked jury in the first trial failed to reach a verdict last year, just as a flood of sexual assault and harassment accusations against rich and powerful men gave rise to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

As in the first trial, Cosby declined to testify on his own behalf. He has denied wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact he had was consensual.

His wife of more than 50 years, Camille Cosby, arrived in court on Tuesday for the first time since the trial began on April 9. As in the first trial, she only showed for closing arguments.

If convicted of all three counts, Cosby would likely face up to 10 years in prison under state sentencing guidelines, although Pennsylvania law allows for a maximum penalty of three consecutive 10-year terms. (Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)