Bill Cosby’s chief complainant took the witness stand Friday at his sexual assault retrial, telling a jury she wants justice after five other women testified that the man once revered as “America’s Dad” is a serial rapist who harmed them, too.
Andrea Constand’s appearance was her second chance to confront Cosby in court after his first trial ended with a hung jury. This time, though, she will face a defence 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 US to settle a civil lawsuit Constand filed after the district attorney at the time dropped the case.
Constand told jurors Friday 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, a tall and athletic Canadian who turned 45 this week, 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.
Cosby says Constand consented to a sexual encounter and denies she was incapacitated.(Matt Slocum/Associated Press)
She said Cosby offered her pills after she said she was “stressed” about telling the Temple women’s basketball coach of her plans to leave to study massage therapy in Canada. He called the pills “your friends” and told her they would “help take the edge off.”
Instead, Constand said, the pills made her black out. She awoke to find Cosby penetrating her with his fingers and putting her hand on his penis. She said she was still incapacitated and “was not able to do anything” about the assault.
It’s the only allegation among dozens against Cosby that has led to criminal charges. He says Constand consented to a sexual encounter and denies she was incapacitated.
Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt, left, argues with Gloria Allred, lawyer for several women accusing the comedian of sexual assault, during a break at at the Montgomery County Courthouse pn Thursday.(Matt Slocum/Associated Press)
Accusers called ‘distractors’
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said Cosby’s new defence team has researched Constand’s testimony and statements from last year and found “even more inconsistencies.”
Wyatt on Thursday derided the five additional accusers who testified as “distractors” and “advocates for the prosecution” and for Constand. Only one other accuser was permitted to take the stand at Cosby’s first trial.
Cosby’s lawyer, Tom Messereau, has characterized Constand as a ‘con artist.’(Mark Makela/Getty Images)
The women, Wyatt said, 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.
In addition to chief complainant Constand, former model Janice Dickinson is one of five additional accusers testifying during the retrial.(Mark Makela/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?”
Troiani was peeved at the defence for fighting to disclose the settlement figure to jurors in what she said was a clear violation of the confidential settlement agreement between Cosby and Constand.
“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 defence says Constand outlined her get-rich scheme to a Temple colleague, Marguerite Jackson. Cosby’s lawyers plans to call Jackson as a witness and say 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.
The other women’s harrowing, sometimes tearful stories could help.
Janice Dickinson, a onetime model, 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.”
Lise-Lotte Lublin, another accuser who testified Thursday, told jurors she lost consciousness and doesn’t remember anything else about her alleged encounter with Cosby in 1989.(Mark Makela/Getty Images)
“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.”
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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