Cosby lawyers attack accusers’ credibility, drawing prosecutor rebuke

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – Defense lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby on Tuesday attacked the credibility of women who testified against him at his sexual assault trial, drawing a stern rebuke from prosecutors who said such shaming of victims was the reason women do not report sex crimes.

Bill Cosby (L) arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse with his spokesperson Andrew Wyatt to attend his sexual assault retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 24, 2018. Jessica Griffin/Pool via REUTERS

Cosby, the once-beloved comedian and TV dad, is on trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, 45, at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.

Lawyers for each side made their closing arguments on Tuesday at Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau picked apart what he called inconsistent statements by Constand, labeling her “a pathological liar” and reminding the jury she continued to call Cosby after the alleged assault. He declared Cosby “must be acquitted on all counts.”

Attorney Tom Mesereau (C), attorney for Bill Cosby, arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for the sexual assault retrial of Bill Cosby in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 24, 2018. Jessica Griffin/Pool via REUTERS

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 Cosby’s 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.

Slideshow (3 Images)

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

When the prosecution got its turn, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden turned her attention not just to Cosby but also to Bliss, calling the defense lawyer’s attack on the accusers “shameful, utterly shameful.”

“She (Bliss) is the exact reason women and men don’t report these crimes. Victims of sexual assault are part of society, too. They have families; they are human beings,” Feden 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 before 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.

Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Athletes React to Meek Mill’s Prison Release

Meek Mill

Athletes React to Prison Release

4/24/2018 2:14 PM PDT

Breaking News

The sports world is freaking out over Meek Mill‘s release from prison … with some of the biggest athletes showing support for the rap superstar.

Philadelphia Eagles star Jay Ajayi kicked off the celebration by tweeting “MEEK FREE!!!!! Philly Lit”

Torrey Smith praised Sixers owner Michael Rubin for his contribution and “for simply being a good friend and lending his platform to help others,” and adding “Thousands of people are treated unfairly daily by the criminal justice system. I can’t wait to see @MeekMill help lead the way for others that don’t have a voice. Welcome home!”

Karl-Anthony Towns — who showed support for the rapper with a customized jersey at the Super Bowl this year — voiced his approval, saying “Welcome home @MeekMill”

 Ex-NFLer Freddie Mitchell added “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last. Letttttss Goooo” … and Super Bowl champ Jalen Mills added “MEEK MILL HOLLA AT ME BRO…. That MAN FREE”

L.A. Lakers star Kyle Kuzma had a different take, saying “It took meek mill 5 months to get out of jail but this guy from the Waffle House shooting can potentially be out by next week on BAIL. #OnlyInAmerica”

Kanye West Breaks with Scooter Braun and Sources Call Him Erratic

Kanye West

Breaks With Scooter Braun

… Sources Call Him ‘Erratic’

4/24/2018 12:31 PM PDT

Exclusive Details

Kanye West has parted ways with much of his management team, and our sources say he seems a little erratic.

We’re told Kanye gave his team an ultimatum — work with him full-time or not at all. The various members of his team, including his lawyers and manager Scooter Braun, weren’t up for playing ball. Scooter has a million irons in the fire and working for Kanye full-time is out of the question.

Kanye has said he wants to be bigger than Apple. Problem is … various people who have been interacting with him say he’s hitting the guardrails. They’re quick to point out he’s not having the kind of meltdown he had in November 2016, but they say he’s acting erratically.

We’re told Kanye plans to do everything in-house — at least with respect to his music career. We’re told he’s still on good terms with Braun and they will continue doing business together. Scooter’s company helped Kanye launch his super successful Adidas business

Stockholm church bells play ‘Wake me up’ in Avicii tribute

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Church bells played one of Avicii’s biggest hits in the Swedish capital Stockholm on Tuesday, paying tribute to the DJ and record producer who was found dead last week.

The song “Wake me up” rang out from the 80-metre-high tower of Oscar’s Church in central Stockholm, where Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling, grew up.

One of the biggest stars of electronic dance music (EDM), Avicii was found dead at the age of 28 in Muscat, Oman, his U.S. publicist said on Friday. No cause of death was given.

The church will have its bells play the song at noon from Monday to Friday this week, it said on its web page, adding “Rest in peace”.

Avicii, also known for international hits like “Hey Brother” and “Waiting for love”, announced in 2016 that he was retiring from touring, but he kept making music and was nominated for a Billboard music award last week.

The family of the artist on Monday said they were grateful for the numerous public tributes paid, but offered no details on his unexpected death.

Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven called Avicii “one of Sweden’s biggest musical wonders of modern time” on Instagram.

Stockholm resident Jon Holmgren said Avicii had meant very much to him, as his son was the same age and in the same group of friends as the artist when he grew up.

“He is a fantastic success story with a very tragic ending, unfortunately,” he said, standing outside Oscar’s Church.

FILE PHOTO: Hundreds of fans of Avicii gather to honour him at Sergels Torg in central Stockholm, Sweden April 21, 2018. Fredrik Persson/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

Reporting by Helena Soderpalm, additional reporting by Ilze Filks

Cosby lawyers slam accuser as ‘pathological liar’ at trial

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (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.”

Bill Cosby (L) arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse with his spokesperson Andrew Wyatt to attend his sexual assault retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 24, 2018. Jessica Griffin/Pool via REUTERS

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.”

Attorney Tom Mesereau (C), attorney for Bill Cosby, arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for the sexual assault retrial of Bill Cosby in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 24, 2018. Jessica Griffin/Pool via REUTERS

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.

Slideshow (2 Images)

“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

5 Comics to Read Before You See ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

No matter how magnetic Josh Brolin is when wearing a full face of CGI makeup—and the answer, it seems, is a surprising “more than you’d expect”—there’s no way that Avengers: Infinity War can fulfill everyone’s Thanos thirst. The character Brolin is embodying is almost too much for one person to take on. With that in mind, it’s time to head to the comic book shelves to learn more about the Mad Titan and what he’s all about. Forget about avenging—it’s time to read up on everything you need to know about the Marvel mega-villain. Start with these five titles first.

Thanos Quest #1-2

The roots of Thanos’ cinematic mission can be found in this 1990 miniseries written by the man who came up with the character, Jim Starlin. Created as a prelude to the Infinity Gauntlet comic book series—we’ll get there in a second—it’s as much an explanation of who Thanos is and what he wants as anyone needs, as well as the ideal illustration of just how far he’s willing to go to to achieve his ambition. (Spoiler alert: Pretty far, even by supervillain standards.)

How to read it: Available digitally and in second-hand bins, if you’re lucky.

The Infinity Gauntlet #1-6

Almost certainly the Thanos comic book storyline, The Infinity Gauntlet shows what happens when Thanos gets ultimate power—and why that’s really terrible news for anyone wanting to stand against him. Ready to watch your favorite superheroes get slaughtered while someone who wants to end half of all life has godlike abilities? This is where you go … especially because the complete series also demonstrates just why, as Kanye West once so poignantly put it, no one man should have all that power.

How to read it: Available digitally and in the Infinity Gauntlet print collection.

Infinity #1-6

If Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet are spiritual parents to Avengers: Infinity War, it’s clear the filmmakers definitely also looked at this 2013 “event series” for inspiration on how to actually execute the movie. Not only was this the place where the Cull Obsidian debuted ahead of their cinematic appearance, but there are echoes of the plot of this comic in the movie itself—not least of which being how hard the heroes will fight when it seems that all is lost. Sure, there may be no Infinity Gauntlet in this run, but as long as Thanos is causing chaos and disaster for everyone and everything around him, does it matter?

How to read it: Available digitally and in the Infinity print collection.

Thanos Rising #1-5

For those wondering just how one ends up being determined to create cosmic genocide on a scale literally unfathomable—even if, in Thanos’s eyes, he’s doing it for the right reasons—here’s your answer: The story of how a small child ended up growing up into one of the most terrifying, destructive forces in the entire universe.

How to read it: Available digitally and in the Thanos Rising print collection.

Thanos (2016) #13-18

As to where Thanos could go next, this six-part storyline from the just-concluded Thanos series is a fun possibility to explore. Titled “Thanos Wins,” it’s a story where that very thing has happened, but not in a way anyone expected—least of all Thanos, who comes face-to-face with a future version of himself that has achieved all of his aims, and remains dissatisfied with his life. (Being a Big Bad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, apparently.) As an added plus, there’s also the Sensational Character Find of 2018 to discover. Are you—is anybody—ready for … Cosmic Ghost Rider?!?

How to read it: Available digitally and in print editions

Gronk Praised By World-Famous DJ Gianluca Vacchi For Avicii Tribute

Gronk

Praised By World-Famous DJ

For Avicii Tribute

4/24/2018 8:04 AM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Rob Gronkowski celebrated Avicii‘s life EXACTLY the way the DJ would’ve wanted … so says another world-famous DJ, who tells TMZ Sports Gronk put a little happy into a terribly sad situation.

We got Gianluca Vacchi (yes, he’s Italian) — the dude GQ once called “The Coolest Man On Instagram” — and asked him what he thought of Gronk turning up to Avicii’s song in Austin this weekend.

You can tell Vacchi (who’s remixed Avicii’s music in the past) was moved by the tribute, telling our camera guy having fun is the whole point of EDM, and the perfect way to honor the late DJ.

Sad story, but you know what’s not sad? Vacchi’s Instagram. Dude has over 11 million followers and we gotta say his lifestyle makes Gronk look like Peyton Manning.

RIP Avicii.

Rick Ross Promises to Clean Up TMZ Photog and Harvey’s Look

Rick Ross to TMZ Photog

I’m Gonna Clean You Up

‘Hervis’ Levin, Too, Actually!

4/24/2018 7:58 AM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Rick Ross does not want to be approached by scrubs in the streets, which is a lesson our camera guy — and Harvey Levin — might need to learn the hard way.

We got Rozay Monday leaving The London hotel in NYC, where our photog asked about how he felt about Meek Mill still being locked up despite a rallying cry from the public. Ross tells us it’s BS, and that his label mate still has his support … but then changed the subject.

The Boss calls out our guy for not having a clean shave — but the good news is that he generously offers to hook him up with his own line of ‘RICH’ hair care products.

Even better news … Rick extends his offer to our boss, ‘Hervis,’ whom the rap mogul says has been looking stressed as of late. You don’t gotta tell us, Renzel. Also … do it!!!!

Tracy Morgan Gets His ‘Headsprung’ as ‘Last O.G.’ Renewed for Season 2

Tracy Morgan

Gets His ‘Headsprung’

As ‘Last O.G.’ is Renewed

4/24/2018 7:29 AM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Tracy Morgan sticks to his O.G. status on and off camera, especially when he hears his hit new show just got picked up for a new season … queue LL Cool J slaps.

We got Tracy Monday arriving to the ‘Daily Show’ set in NYC, where he was scheduled to appear as one of Trevor Noah‘s guests. He also happened to show up hours after the news broke that his TBS comedy, “The Last O.G.,” had gotten picked up for a second season. 

Call us crazy, but it sounds like Tracy knew his character, Tray, was coming back — ’cause he was blasting LL’s 2004 single, “Headsprung,” out of his Rolls-Royce, which is nothing short of a party anthem. He also had on the biggest damn chain in the world.

Granted … 2004 ain’t all that old when you’re talking ‘O.G.’ — especially for an LL track — but we’ll cut the dude a break. Good news is good news, right?

DJ Khaled and Kevin Hart Go to War Over Heat vs. 76ers!!!

DJ Khaled and Kevin Hart

Go to War Over Heat vs. 76ers!!!

4/24/2018 6:24 AM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Most polite war ever!!! 

Here’s DJ Khaled telling TMZ Sports why the Miami Heat will come back and beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA playoffs. 

And here’s Kevin Hart explaining why Khaled’s OUT OF HIS DAMN MIND!!!

The Heat are currently down 3-1 to the 76ers — and Philly can close it out Tuesday night in the City of Brotherly Love. 

But Khaled — who’s a diehard Heat fan — ain’t giving up hope. In fact, he says Miami has that championship pedigree you can’t ever count out. 

Enter Kevin Hart (or exit Kevin Hart) who says he’s getting on a plane and heading to Philly … and shocker, he’s repping hard for his squad. 

We’ll see who emerges victorious Tuesday night …