Seeing it through

Prosecutor improvised some of her closing remarks at Cosby trial

Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand embraces Special Prosecutor Kristen Gibbons Feden during a news conference after a jury convicted the actor and comedian for sexual assault during a retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on April 26, 2018. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

At a press conference following a Pennsylvania jury’s guilty verdict last week convicted Bill Cosby of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, the victim in the case, Andrea Constand, could be seen embracing a lawyer, Kristen Gibbons Feden. The district attorney had credited Fenton with having the courage to take the case against Cosby to court, something his predecessor had declined to do.

Feden, 35, provided some of the most dramatic moments in the trial’s final stages, at one point staring down Cosby in court, using some legal jujitsu to turn the defense’s case that Constand was a “con artist” against itself by declaring that actual con artist was “the man sitting right there.” In another dramatic moment, Feden lashed out at one of Cosby’s lawyers, Kathleen Bliss, after she told jurors that Constand and the other accusers were seeking fame and money. “She’s the exact reason why victims, women and men, of sexual assault don’t report these crimes,” Feden said in response.

She explained to the The New York Times that she’d meticulously plotted out her closing remarks, but then quickly amended them, handwriting some improvised notes after listening to the accusations made by Bliss. “What I tried to do was contrast her character assassination with these very humane, very human emotions that had been flowing from the witness box,” Fenton said, explaining how she adjusted her strategy on the fly. She admits she can be emotional, which she said can sometimes be a flaw. But she also pointed out that her emotion can be harnessed and used effectively, like she was able to during the Cosby case. “As much as people like to judge and blame the victims,” Feden said, “the victim is already judging and blaming herself.”

Feden had worked the first prosecution of Cosby last year, which ended with the judge declaring a mistrial. After that outcome, she left the prosecutor’s office for a job at a big law firm — but she took a leave of absence from that job to come back and assist with the retrial. The Times story charts her meteoric rise in the legal profession — one that originally began on a path to a much different career, before her sister pointed out why she probably couldn’t continue down that path.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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