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Jurors See Videotape Of Cosby, Defendant Autumn Jackson’s Grandmother Takes Stand In Extortion Trial

Tue., July 22, 1997, midnight

The jury in the extortion trial of a woman claiming to be Bill Cosby’s secret love child watched a home videotape Monday showing the actor joking with the defendant the first time they met in 1991.

“Hello, all the people,” Cosby says to the camera while putting his arm around an adoring Autumn Jackson after a taping of “The Cosby Show.”

Cosby, dressed in a sweatshirt and baseball cap, mentions that Jackson is about to enter a Florida prep school, “where she’ll be an honor student, and if she doesn’t, watch this.” He then throws a fake punch at Jackson, causing her to burst out in laughter.

Jackson’s attorney, Robert Baum, played the 15-second clip as part of a brief defense featuring only one witness - Jackson’s grandmother, who shot the video. Closing arguments were scheduled for today.

Jackson, 22, Jose Medina, 51, and Boris Sabas, 42, are charged with extortion, conspiracy and traveling across state lines to commit a crime in threatening to go public with Jackson’s claim that she is Cosby’s child unless Cosby gave them $40 million.

In testimony last week, Cosby admitted having sex with Jackson’s mother, Shawn Upshaw, in the 1970s and later paying her to keep quiet about their brief affair. He also acknowledged supporting Jackson in prep school and college, but said he had told her he is not her father.

Before the trial, Judge Barbara Jones ruled that the question of whether Cosby is Jackson’s father was irrelevant in an extortion case. But the defense was allowed to argue Jackson was raised to believe the actor is her father, and thought she was engaged in lawful negotiation for her birth rights when she demanded the $40 million.

Jackson was first told that Cosby was her father at age 5, when she was a fan of his Fat Albert cartoon character, her grandmother, Lois Maxfield, testified.

The girl also learned that her mother “was told not to put (Cosby’s) name on the birth certificate,” and that the actor had promised to take care of the mother and daughter as long as it was kept a secret, Maxfield said.

She did not say who gave the instruction not to put Cosby’s name on the birth certificate.

Worried about Upshaw’s drug addiction, Cosby sent Maxfield $25,000 in cash in 1991 to send Jackson to a Florida prep school, the grandmother testified. The actor also arranged a visit to the Queens set of “The Cosby Show.”

Cosby gave Jackson a small stuffed teddy bear and showered her with fatherly attention, Maxfield said. At dinner, “Bill told her to eat her greens,” she said.

Earlier, prosecutors concluded their case by playing a tape of a phone conversation between Upshaw and Medina. Told by Cosby’s attorney that Jackson’s threats constituted extortion, Upshaw had tried to reach her daughter through Medina to relay the lawyer’s message.

“Autumn has painted herself into a corner,” Upshaw is heard saying on the tape. “She has tried to blackmail him. … It’s called extortion.”


 

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