WASHINGTON -- To help combat a damaging deposition in which he admitted that he gave Quaaludes to younger women before having sex with them, Bill Cosby has added Washington lawyer Monique Pressley to his defense team. In recent days, Pressley has done damage control for the comedian, spinning the revelations from the deposition as mere cherry-picking and inaccurate.
Pressley has also suggested that the mere fact that dozens of women have come forward with rape allegations is not proof of her client's guilt. But this past December, during a panel discussion on the rape allegations, the attorney's belief in Cosby's innocence wasn't so absolute.
"You'll have some people who will come forward and join the bandwagon," she said in a discussion on NewsOne. "If you know the police department messed up in a certain park on a certain day, you'll have 30 people who'll come forward to cash in who weren't even there, who were at lunch across the street, who were looking from the window."
Pressley appeared to be referencing her tenure in the District of Columbia's Office of the Attorney General, during which she unsuccessfully defended the city against a class-action lawsuit stemming from the 2002 mass arrest of individuals in Pershing Park near the White House.
In her admission that the "police department messed up," she seemed to be suggesting that there was similarly a basis for a claim against Cosby. In other words, Pressley was suggesting that not all of his accusers were liars. It was just that some of them might be lying or climbing aboard "the bandwagon" of actual victims.
The Pershing Park case was clear-cut. The arrests by D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, with an assist from the U.S. Park Police, took place on the first day of anti-globalization demonstrations. The police rounded up nearly everyone in the park without warning or probable cause. Roughly 400 were arrested, including people who had just wandered over to the area. All the charges against those arrested were ultimately dropped.
The incident sparked lawsuits and police reforms. The class-action case eventually settled for $8.25 million and the city agreeing to meaningful policy changes.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, who represented the plaintiffs in that case, sees Pressley's quote comparing the Cosby case to the Pershing Park case as a concession.
“It’s a telling admission of the validity of the underlying claim of illegal conduct by Cosby," she said. “It’s an admission of the legitimacy of the claim.”
Pressley, who did not return multiple requests for comment, only recently began making media appearances as a spokeswoman for Cosby. The panel discussion appears to have taken place before she was hired.
"My primary focus is to try to ensure that the reporting by the media is paying attention to the facts" in Cosby's latest legal filings, Pressley told USA Today this week. "I am the highlighter, pointing to these facts: There has been no charge of criminal conduct, no conviction and no admission of criminal conduct by Mr Cosby."