One of America’s favorite fathers, Bill Cosby, may be the star witness against a young woman who claims she is his illegitimate daughter.
Autumn Jackson, 22, goes on trial this week on charges she demanded $40 million from him or she would go public. Jury selection begins today.
Cosby, who has been married for 33 years, has said he does not believe he is Jackson’s father, though he conceded having an affair with her mother. But prosecutors say the case is about extortion, not paternity.
Cosby, who made a career out of fatherhood playing Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” and writing a book about fathering five children, is one of several witnesses prosecutors plan to call to prove that Jackson and two other defendants threatened his reputation.
The jury may never find out whether Cosby is her father, since U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones has not required Cosby to take a blood test.
Cosby also will not be forced to release his net worth. He said he keeps that private, even from his closest advisers.
Jackson’s lawyer, Robert Baum, said Cosby established a trust fund in 1994 to pay Jackson’s mother $750 a week for life.
“Autumn has been raised to believe that Bill Cosby is her father,” Baum said. Jackson was simply “engaged in negotiations, not extortion,” with a man she believes is her father, he said.