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The "Difference Makers": How the testimony of five other women led to a Bill Cosby conviction



On April 8, Janice Baker-Kinney stood in front of a monitor at San Francisco International Airport and took a picture of herself.

The screen featured Virgin America Flight 1136. Aim: Philadelphia

Baker-Kinney, a sports television executive from Northern California, would be on this plane.

At different places across the country, other women made the same journey. Heidi Thomas, a private music teacher from Colorado, went to Philadelphia. Such was Chelan Lasha, who spends her days looking after her aging father in Palmdale, California. Janice Dickinson, a Real TV star from Los Angeles and former model; and Lise-Lotte Lublin, a school teacher from Nevada.

None of these women could testify last year when a jury was arrested for sexual assault on comedic legend Bill Cosby. But this time, when the 80-year-old entertainer was tried again, they were all released as witnesses to publicize their reports of drugs and raids by Cosby. Baker-Kinney was so nervous when she appeared on the witness stand that she was attacked by Cosby in 1

982, when she was 24 years old and sitting on her hands

"My hands were shaking so much," she said Friday in an interview. "That I had to use two hands to pick up a cup of water."

But her voice did not shake, nor did it catch her composure when she swapped verbal jabs with Cosby's aggressive solicitor. On Thursday, in the emotional moments after a jury persuaded Cosby to convict Andrea Constand, a woman he was tutoring at Temple University, prosecutor Kevin Steele had a name for Baker-Kinney and the other four witnesses attending Assisted in the indictment process.

He called them "Difference Makers," the five women whose testimony evoked a kind of snowball effect that blurred Cosby's healthy reputation and replaced it with a decade-long image of a methodical predator. Their presence will also be great if the case moves on to the next phase, where the defense will in all likelihood argue that it was unfairly unfair to the judge, Baker-Kinney, and the others, in the hope of reversing the conviction To allow statement.

"This case was testified to Cosby and Constand," said Ed Ford, a lifelong friend of Cosby, who attended both trials, said in an interview Friday. "There was no testimony to Cosby and all the other witnesses, and if you only went through [Constand’s] testimony, their credibility was flawed."

The intrigue surrounding the five women who testified in the case of the prosecution increased only by the opaque nature of the decision to allow them to take the witness stand. Steven T. O'Neill, the verbal, energetic judge from Montgomery County who conducted both trials, gave no reasons last year when he did limited the prosecutors to calling only one former prosecutor for Cosby's first trial. And he said little about his decision to allow five women this time.

It is common that Pennsylvania State judges do not give a comprehensive reason for deciding on evidence, in part because their case numbers are so high that they do not have time to write long opinions, said Dennis McAndrews, a lawyer both processes participated but is not connected with either side of the case. But if the verdict is challenged, McAndrews said, O'Neill must explain his reasoning. The bad news for the defense, McAndrews said, is that O'Neill does not have the reputation of a judge who is frequently tipped.

"Pennsylvania appellate courts are generally trying to validate unless there is a clear legal justification, and they give the trial tribunal considerable recognition regarding the admission of evidence," McAndrews said in an interview on Friday. "I think the probability of a reversal is low."

Baker-Kinney was the third of the five women who testified and told siblings how a friend at Harrah's Casino in Reno, Nevada – where she worked as a bartender – invited her to a party that Cosby im House of the owner of the casino organized. Her boyfriend was attracted to big African American men. She assumed she was the "wingman" of her boyfriend.

When they arrived, there was no party. At Cosby's invitation, Baker-Kinney said she had taken two quaals that left her "shuffling and blurry." Then she said he had sexually assaulted her.

"In retrospect, it was a stupid thing," said Baker -Kinney, who testified to feeling guilty and blaming herself for many years.

When the defense asked Baker-Kinney questions, Cossby's chief solicitor Thomas Mesereau went to a lectern to the jury. His first question had nothing to do with the 1982 incident.

Instead, Mesereau said, "Are you on any medication?"

In the audience, heads snapped at the lawyer. But Baker-Kinney did not flinch. She quietly stated that she is taking Celexa, an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant prescribed to her to cope with the sudden and unexpected death of her husband and the death of her mother.

Baker-Kinney, pushed over by Mesereau over her use of intoxicants over the decades, testified without hesitation that she had used a Quaalude at least once and remained sober for years after alcoholism. The questioning was so controversial that at some point Baker-Kinney looked at Mesereau and contemptuously said, "Do you want to blindfold me?"

The well-known lawyer replied, "Yes."

An Interview On Friday, Baker-Kinney said she had no idea when she would come to the statement when she arrived in Montgomery County, the suburban community where the trial took place.

Her appearance on the witness stand, she said, was "surreal."

She would have liked to hear the verdict in person, but she is a freelancer and did not want to reject such vacancies waiting for her in California. She made her way to the airport, took another picture in front of the airport monitor and boarded a plane to the west.

"It was only after my return to California that I was able to breathe deeply," she said.

When the verdict was pronounced, she phoned her dear friend Linda Kirkpatrick, a Cosby prosecutor, who was not called to trial. They were sobbing so badly that Baker-Kinney's husband thought she was upset.

It was not her.


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