A forensic psychiatrist has offered testimony in the retrial of Bill Cosby. Cosby, 80, is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. In Cosby’s first trial, the jury was unable to reach a verdict following almost 60 hours of deliberations. The result was a mistrial.
Constand claims that Cosby gave her pills for stress and that she fell asleep. When she awoke, she found him sexually attacking her, but she was unable to speak or move. Constand didn’t report the incident to police until a year later.
In Cosby’s retrial, the majority of jurors who were empaneled said that they had some knowledge of the past case. Some jurors had no knowledge. None of the jurors were specifically asked if they were aware of the mistrial.
Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist, was called as an expert witness. Ziv said that it was not unusual for sexual assault victims to continue to have contact with the person who attacked them, especially if the attacker was in a position of power over them. She testified, “I’m not sure I can think of one victim of sexual assault who did not feel humiliated, does not blame herself to some extent, and is not deeply ashamed about it. . . . That’s one reason why so many do not go to police, because when you do you lose control over your narrative and your whole life can take a tailspin.” Ziv said that, “Individuals find themselves feeling frozen, not knowing what to do and feeling frightened.”
Ziv explained “rape myths,” and the contradictory behavior that may occur after a sexual assault. Ziv said, “Most of what people believe, the most common knowledge, about sexual assault is wrong.” Ziv explained why sexual assault victims may not remember the details of their assaults and why it may take them months or years before coming forward with their accusations. Ziv told jurors that victims will often not immediately escape if their case involves acquaintances. She testified, “We blame victims for not being the kind of victim we think they should be. . . . If a football player gets hit hard, and gets back up again, we applaud them. But if a victim of sexual assault gets up again and moves on with their life, we say, ‘Then it didn’t happen.’”
Ziv testified that if an intoxicant is involved, it is likely that a survivor will not have a clear or chronological recollection of the events. She said, “If drugs are involved, it increases the victim’s sense of responsibility, and impacts their memory of the incident.”
Defense attorney Kathleen Bliss cross-examined Dr. Ziv. Bliss questioned Ziv about false sexual assault allegations such as those made in the Duke lacrosse case and the Central Park Five. Bliss also questioned Ziv about the likelihood of accusers keeping in touch with their attackers. Bliss questioned Ziv about an article in Sky News about sex crimes in which Ziv had been quoted. Bliss said, “The article reported you commenting on the jury’s inability to reach a verdict and convict Mr. Cosby.” Prosecutor Kristen Feden objected to this statement.