Cosby accuser: ‘I did not have the courage … to tell my family’
NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania — Bill Cosby’s defense team said Wednesday that accuser Andres Constand had been alone with the comedian on numerous occasions before she accused him of a January 2004 assault, insinuating that the meet-ups were romantic in nature.
But Constand said she had rebuffed Cosby’s “suggestive” passes, once when he put his hand on her thigh and another time when he put his finger on her pants and tried to unzip them.
“Mr. Cosby never disclosed to me that he was interested in a romantic interaction with me,” she said during her seven hours of testimony, spanning two days.
Constand, a former employee at Temple University, has accused Cosby of drugging and assaulting her during a visit to his home 13 years ago. Temple is Cosby’s alma mater, and he was a powerful trustee there at the time.
Earlier, the defense team pointed out that Constand told police she’d never been alone with Cosby before the alleged assault and was never in contact with him afterward. Constand has said neither of those assertions was correct.
“I was really nervous and wasn’t able to recall every particular moment that I had seen Mr. Cosby in order of dates,” she said, explaining the inconsistencies.
In response to phone records indicating she called Cosby 53 times after the alleged assault, Constand said most of the calls were to update Cosby on the status of the women’s basketball team in the postseason tournament, and most of the calls went unanswered. She stopped calling after she left her job at Temple in March 2004, she said.
In August of that year, Constand testified, she asked Cosby’s representatives for tickets for her and her family to see his show in Toronto. She did not see Cosby before or after the show, she said, but she gave Cosby’s aides a gift from her brother. She has previously testified that she did not immediately share her allegations with police or her family.
“It was a very big burden on me, but one that I did not have the courage at the time to tell my family,” she said.
Defense attorney Brian McMonagle said during opening statements that Constand had a romantic encounter with Cosby at his Foxwoods Resort Casino hotel room in Connecticut before the alleged assault.
Constand testified Wednesday that wasn’t the case. Where McMonagle alleged Constand lay in bed with him, she contended she sat on the bed next to him. He fell asleep and she left the room, she testified.
‘They’re your friends’
In testimony Tuesday, Constand said Cosby had befriended her and taken an interest in her career. At his home one evening in 2004, he pressed her to take three blue pills, which he said were herbal and would help her relax, she said.
“Put them down. They’re your friends. They’ll take the edge off,” she recalled Cosby telling her. “I said, ‘I trust you.’ I took the pills, and I swallowed the pills down.”
Shortly after, she told him she had become “frozen” and incapacitated, she testified. Cosby then laid her on the couch and assaulted her sexually, she alleged.
“I felt really humiliated and I was really confused,” Constand said, wiping tears from her eyes. “I just wanted to go home.”
Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault in the Montgomery County Courthouse near his suburban Philadelphia home. The 79-year-old actor and comedian has pleaded not guilty.
Dramatic scene years in the making
Constand’s testimony represents the first time she has spoken out publicly about the incident. Cosby, who has said he does not plan to testify, repeatedly lowered and shook his head as she spoke.
The dramatic scene was more than a dozen years in the making. Constand initially told police about the incident in 2005, but the then-district attorney declined to press charges against Cosby. She sued in civil court, and Cosby settled the case in 2006.
The deposition Cosby provided in that civil suit, in which he admitted to many of Constand’s allegations, is central to the case against him. Cosby’s attorneys have said the pills he gave Constand were Benadryl and that their sexual activity was consensual.
Defense attorneys have pointed to inconsistencies in Constand’s testimony and questioned why she waited a year to report the alleged assault to police.
On cross-examination Tuesday, Constand conceded that some things she initially told police — her assertion she had not been alone with Cosby before the alleged assault, for example — were incorrect.
“I was mistaken,” Constand said. “It was a lot of confusion putting a lot of dates together.”
Cosby has been accused of assault by dozens of women, but the charges in this trial deal solely with Constand’s accusations. One other accuser, Kelly Johnson, was allowed to testify as prosecutors seek to establish that Cosby’s alleged assault was part of a pattern.
Johnson, a former assistant at the William Morris talent agency, testified Monday that in 1996 Cosby pressured her to take a pill that left her largely incapacitated. Cosby then engaged in sexual activity with her when she could not resist, she testified through tears.
Johnson’s mother, Patrice Sewell, also testified to receiving a call from her “hysterical” daughter, who told her that Cosby had assaulted her and tried to have her fired from William Morris. A William Morris attorney at the time testified he recalled Johnson alleging, during a workers’ compensation hearing, that Cosby abused her.
The defense has argued Johnson was fired for other reasons, including violating the company policy on dating clients.
Cosby starred in “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” “I Spy” and “The Cosby Show.” Through the latter he turned the lives of an upper-middle-class African-American family into a groundbreaking TV sitcom.
His sweater-wearing portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable made him a household name and one of the most beloved comedians in the world. In later years, Cosby became somewhat of a public moralizer, speaking out against what he saw as the failings of the African-American community in raising children.
Cosby is facing a jury of seven men and five women. Two jurors are black. The jurors, who were selected in Allegheny County in an effort to ensure a fair trial, will be sequestered in the criminal trial for about two weeks, the lawyers in the case have predicted.