News

Cosby's chief accuser says she wants justice for sex assault

Written by Michael Sisak/The Associated Press | Apr 13, 2018 3:43 AM
andrea-constand-hallway.jpg

Photo by Mark Makela/Pool Photo via AP

FILE PHOTO: Andrea Constand arrives during Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown.


(Norristown) -- Bill Cosby's chief accuser took the witness stand Friday at his sexual assault retrial, declaring for a second jury that he knocked her out her with three blue pills and then sexually assaulted her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

"I was weak. I was limp, and I just could not fight him off," said Andrea Constand, once again confronting the 80-year-old comedian in court after his first trial ended with a hung jury.

Her harrowing account of sexual molestation was remarkably similar to the one she gave at last year's trial, and jurors watched intently and scribbled notes as she described how Cosby -- the good-guy celebrity she viewed as a mentor and friend -- had betrayed her trust.

Cosby's lawyer, who has blasted Constand as a "con artist" who leveled false accusations against the star as part of a scheme to get money from him, began what was expected to be a blistering cross-examination by going through a thick binder of Constand's police statements and prior testimony, pointing out discrepancies between what she said in the past and her testimony Friday.

Under questioning by prosecutors, Constand, who worked as a women's basketball administrator at Temple University, said Cosby offered her pills and a sip of wine after she said she was "stressed" about telling the Temple coach of her plans to leave to study massage therapy in her native Canada. She said Cosby, a Temple alum and powerful trustee, called the pills "your friends" and told her they would "help take the edge off."

Instead, Constand said, the pills instead made her black out. She awoke to find the actor known as "America's Dad" penetrating her with his fingers, touching her breast and putting her hand on his penis.

She said she wanted Cosby to stop but couldn't say anything. She tried moving her arms and legs but couldn't do that either.

Constand said she awoke between 4 and 5 a.m. to find her bra up around her neck and her pants half unzipped. She said Cosby stopped her as she went to leave: "All he said was there's a muffin and tea on the table and then, 'All right' and then I left."

Afterward, Constand said, "I was really humiliated. I was in shock. And I was really confused."

Cosby has said he gave Constand the cold medicine Benadryl and that she consented to a sexual encounter.

Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau told jurors in an opening statement on Tuesday that Constand was a pauper who stiffed roommates on bills, racked up big credit card debt and once ran a Ponzi scheme until she "hit the jackpot" in 2006, when Cosby paid her $3.4 million to settle the civil lawsuit Constand filed after the district attorney at the time dropped the case.

On the stand, Constand told jurors she has nothing to gain financially now by wanting Cosby locked up.
"Ms. Constand, why are you here?" prosecutor Kristen Feden asked.

"For justice," Constand said.

Constand said she decided to go to police in January 2005, about a year after the encounter, jarred to action by a nightmare and an increasing awareness of consent issues from her ongoing massage therapy training.

"I didn't want it to happen to anybody else, what had happened to me," she said.

She said she was "very scared" about going to police because "he was a Temple trustee. A very powerful man. An entertainer. A very famous person."

Constand testified that Cosby had made previous sexual advances, but she wasn't concerned about him. As a physically fit former professional basketball player, she was confident she could handle him.

"I thought it was a little bit absurd, given that Mr. Cosby was just a little bit younger than my grandfather," Constand said of the sexual interest he'd shown in her. "He was a married man, and I absolutely showed no interest in him. But I wasn't threatened, and I didn't judge him."

Constand's allegation is the only one among dozens against Cosby that has led to criminal charges. If convicted, the former TV star best known for his No. 1 family sitcom "The Cosby Show" faces up to 10 years in prison on each of three related aggravated indecent assault charges.

A jury deadlocked after last year's trial, unable to reach a verdict after more than 52 hours of deliberations over six days.

For this trial, prosecutors had the strategic advantage of putting Constand on the witness stand after a parade of other accusers who told jurors that Cosby had used the same tactics on them: preying on women who saw him as a mentor, debilitating them with pills or alcohol and then violating them when they were unable to fight back. Just one other accuser was permitted to testify at the first trial.

The defense has called the other accusers irrelevant, urging jurors to focus only on the charges that Cosby is facing.

During cross-examination Friday, Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau followed the same playbook as the star's first defense team by seeking to exploit inconsistencies in Constand's various accounts.

On the witness stand, for example, Constand denied ever having intimate contact with Cosby prior to the alleged assault. But in a 2005 deposition that Mesereau showed her, Constand said she had told her mother that she was affectionate toward him.

Cosby's lawyers say Constand outlined her get-rich scheme to a Temple colleague, Marguerite Jackson. The defense plans to call Jackson as a witness and says she will testify that Constand mused about framing a celebrity before she lodged sexual abuse allegations against Cosby in 2005.

Jackson, a longtime Temple official, has said that she and Constand worked closely together, had been friends and had shared hotel rooms several times. She has said Constand once commented to her about setting up a "high-profile person" and filing suit.

On the stand Friday, Constand said she remembers having a hotel room to herself at Temple's away basketball games and did not recall ever rooming with Jackson.

Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, called the defense attacks on her client "outrageous" and "baseless." She ripped Cosby's team for trashing her reputation in the courtroom, where lawyers are immune from defamation lawsuits, and in statements to the media.

"I'd love to see if he thinks he's going to prove any of this," Troiani told The Associated Press.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand and the other women have done.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Norristown) -- Bill Cosby's chief accuser took the witness stand Friday at his sexual assault retrial, declaring for a second jury that he knocked her out her with three blue pills and then sexually assaulted her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

"I was weak. I was limp, and I just could not fight him off," said Andrea Constand, once again confronting the 80-year-old comedian in court after his first trial ended with a hung jury.

Her harrowing account of sexual molestation was remarkably similar to the one she gave at last year's trial, and jurors watched intently and scribbled notes as she described how Cosby -- the good-guy celebrity she viewed as a mentor and friend -- had betrayed her trust.

Constand, who worked as a women's basketball administrator at Temple University, his alma mater, said Cosby offered her pills and a sip of wine after she said she was "stressed" about telling the Temple coach of her plans to leave to study massage therapy in her native Canada. He called the pills "your friends" and told her they would "help take the edge off."

Instead, Constand said, the pills instead made her black out. She awoke to find the actor known as "America's Dad" penetrating her with his fingers, touching her breast and putting her hand on his penis.

She said she wanted Cosby to stop but couldn't say anything. She tried moving her arms and legs but couldn't.

Constand said she awoke between 4 and 5 a.m. to find her bra up around her neck and her pants half unzipped. She said Cosby stopped her as she went to leave: "All he said was there's a muffin and tea on the table and then, 'All right' and then I left."

Afterward, Constand said, "I was really humiliated. I was in shock. And I was really confused."

Cosby has said he gave Constand the cold medicine Benadryl and that she consented to a sexual encounter. She was expected to face intense cross-examination by a defense team intent on portraying her as a "con artist" who framed him for money.

Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau told jurors in an opening statement on Tuesday that Constand was a pauper who stiffed roommates on bills, racked up big credit card debt and once ran a Ponzi scheme until she "hit the jackpot" in 2006, when Cosby paid her $3.4 million to settle the civil lawsuit Constand filed after the district attorney at the time dropped the case.

On the stand, Constand told jurors she has nothing to gain financially now by wanting Cosby locked up.

"Ms. Constand, why are you here?" prosecutor Kristen Feden asked.

"For justice," Constand said.

Constand testified that Cosby had made previous sexual advances, but she wasn't concerned about him. As a physically fit former professional basketball player, she was confident she could handle him.

"I thought it was a little bit absurd, given that Mr. Cosby was just a little bit younger than my grandfather," Constand said of the sexual interest he'd shown in her. "He was a married man, and I absolutely showed no interest in him. But I wasn't threatened, and I didn't judge him."

Constand's allegation is the only one among dozens against Cosby that has led to criminal charges. If convicted, the former TV star best known for his No. 1 family sitcom "The Cosby Show" faces up to 10 years in prison on each of three related aggravated indecent assault charges.

A jury deadlocked after last year's trial, unable to reach a verdict after more than 52 hours of deliberations over six days.

For this trial, prosecutors had the strategic advantage of putting Constand on the witness stand after a parade of other accusers who told jurors that Cosby had used the same tactics on them: preying on women who saw him as a mentor, debilitating them with pills or alcohol and then violating them when they were unable to fight back. Just one other accuser was permitted to testify at the first trial.

The defense has called the other accusers irrelevant, urging jurors to focus only on the charges that Cosby is facing.

Cosby's lawyers say Constand outlined her get-rich scheme to a Temple colleague, Marguerite Jackson. The defense plans to call Jackson as a witness and says she will testify that Constand mused about framing a celebrity before she lodged sexual abuse allegations against Cosby in 2005.

Jackson, a longtime Temple official, has said that she and Constand worked closely together, had been friends and had shared hotel rooms several times. She has said Constand once commented to her about setting up a "high-profile person" and filing suit.

On the stand Friday, Constand said she remembers having a hotel room to herself at Temple's away basketball games and did not recall ever rooming with Jackson.

Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, called the defense attacks on her client "outrageous" and "baseless." She ripped Cosby's team for trashing her reputation in the courtroom, where lawyers are immune from defamation lawsuits, and in statements to the media.

"I'd love to see if he thinks he's going to prove any of this," Troiani told The Associated Press.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand and the other women have done.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Norristown) -- Bill Cosby's chief accuser is set to take the witness stand later today at his sexual assault retrial in Montgomery County, making for a climactic courtroom showdown after five other women told jurors that the man once revered as "America's Dad" is a serial rapist who harmed them too.

Andrea Constand's appearance is her second chance to confront Cosby in court, since his first trial ended without a verdict. This time, though, she's facing a defense team intent on portraying her as a "con artist" who framed him for money.

Constand, who turned 45 on Wednesday, says Cosby drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in January 2004, when she was a women's basketball administrator at his alma mater, Temple University.

It's the only allegation among dozens against Cosby that has led to criminal charges. He says the encounter was consensual, but paid $3.4 million in 2006 to settle a civil lawsuit Constand filed after the district attorney at the time dropped the case.

Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau told jurors in an opening statement on Tuesday that Constand was a pauper who stiffed roommates on bills, racked up big credit card debt and once ran a Ponzi scheme until she "hit the jackpot" when Cosby paid her.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt on Thursday derided the five additional accusers who testified as "distractors" and "advocates for the prosecution and Andrea Constand." Just one other accuser was permitted to take the stand at Cosby's first trial.

Wyatt said the women traded in "poetic licensing, better known as alternative facts" and were pawns in an "'Ocean's 11'-style script" cooked up by lawyers Gloria Allred and her daughter, Lisa Bloom, "to extort Mr. Cosby for $100 million."

Allred floated a proposal that Cosby set aside a chunk of his fortune to compensate accusers, but he never agreed.

"Since this American citizen didn't adhere to Ms. Allred's ransom notice, she paraded in a stable of women to destroy his legacy, his career and reputation," Wyatt said.

Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, called the attacks on her client "outrageous" and "baseless," and ripped Cosby's team for trashing her reputation in the courtroom -- where lawyers are immune from defamation lawsuits -- and in statements to the media.

"I'd love to see if he thinks he's going to prove any of this," Troiani told The Associated Press. "What basis does he have for any of this? So he gets to say whatever he wants and once again they go outside, they slander her outside of the courtroom and what is her recourse?"

Heidi_thomas_cosby.jpg

Heidi Thomas arrives to testify against actor and comedian Bill Cosby during the retrial of Cosby's sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (Dominick Reuter/Pool Photo via AP)

Troiani was peeved at the defense for fighting to disclose the settlement figure to jurors in what she said was a clear violation of the confidential settlement agreement Cosby and Constand struck.

"This is the type of man Cosby is," she said. "We had an agreement and that agreement was supposed to be for both sides. It's not hush money, and I really resent people calling it hush money. It's compensation for the damages done to her."

The other women's harrowing, sometimes tearful stories could help.

Janice Dickinson told jurors on Thursday that Cosby gave her a pill he claimed would ease her menstrual cramps but instead left her immobilized and unable to stop an assault she called "gross."

"I didn't consent to this. Here was 'America's Dad,' on top of me. A married man, father of five kids, on top of me," Dickinson said. "I was thinking how wrong it was. How very wrong it was."

Dickinson, 27 at the time, testified she felt vaginal pain and, after waking up the next morning, noticed semen between her legs. She said Cosby looked at her "like I was crazy" when she confronted him about what had happened.

"I wanted to hit him. I wanted to punch him in the face," she said.

Another accuser, taking the witness stand after Dickinson, said Cosby prodded her to drink two shots in his Las Vegas hotel suite, then had her sit between his knees and started petting her head.

Lise-Lotte Lublin told jurors she lost consciousness and doesn't remember anything else about that night in 1989 -- a time when Cosby was at the height of his fame starring as sweater-wearing father-of-five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on America's top-rated TV show, "The Cosby Show."

"I trusted him because he's 'America's Dad,'" Lublin said. "I trusted him because he's a figure people trusted for many years, including myself."

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand and the other women have done.

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