Bill Cosby trial: Defense attorney says false accusations 'can destroy a man'

The only criminal case to emerge from the dozens of sexual assault allegations lodged against Bill Cosby began Monday. The 79-year-old Cosby showed up at the Montgomery County courthouse at about 8:40 a.m. amid a large media presence.

The judge gave the jury an hour of instructions, reminding them not to glance at news updates on their cellphones, before the prosecution and defense gave their opening statements.

Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden's opening statement relied heavily on Cosby's past deposition testimony about his 2004 encounter with Andrea Constand, including admissions that he gave her pills and touched her genitals as she lay on his couch.

Feden says there is no better window into Cosby's motives and methods than his own words. Feden said Constand will testify, along with another woman who says Cosby drugged and assaulted her in a similar fashion in 1996.

Feden told jurors that in both cases Cosby used his power and fame and a practiced method of placing a young, trusting woman in an incapacitated state so that he could sexually pleasure himself, "so that she couldn't say no."

Cosby's defense lawyer Brian McGonagle defended his client saying while sexual assault is a terrible crime, so too is a false accusation. "[It] can destroy a man. Can destroy his life, his future," he said.

He pointed out alleged inconsistencies in Constand's statements to police adding she first told police she had not spoken to Cosby after the encounter. And, that she changed the date from mid-March to mid-January of 2004.

McMonagle says phone records show the two spoke 72 times after mid-January — and two-thirds of the calls were initiated by Constand.

McMonagle says Cosby and Constand had sipped drinks by a fire and had other romantic encounters. He says Cosby also hoped to help her rethink her career. And, he says Cosby gave her the pills only after she complained of having trouble sleeping. He says he gave her Benadryl, which he says Cosby also took on the road when he couldn't sleep.

Cosby is charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault and a conviction could put him in prison for the rest of his life.

Those involved in the case worry about duplicating the media frenzy that dominated O.J. Simpson's murder trial.

Cameras are banned in Pennsylvania courtrooms. The jury will be sequestered for the estimated two-week trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.