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Monday 27 January 2020

Bill Cosby accuser ‘spent late nights at comedian’s house’

Andrea Constand said under cross-examination that a number of phone calls to the veteran entertainer were about basketball and had nothing to do with romance.

Bill Cosby returns to the courtroom (Dominick Reuter/Pool Photo via AP)
Bill Cosby returns to the courtroom (Dominick Reuter/Pool Photo via AP)

By Michael R Sisak, Associated Press

Bill Cosby’s chief accuser spent late nights at the comedian’s home, drove four hours to see him at a casino and called him twice on Valentine’s Day, about a month after she claims he drugged and sexually assaulted her, jurors have learned.

Andrea Constand took the witness stand for a second day and said under cross-examination that her phone calls to Cosby were about basketball and had nothing to do with romance.

Ms Constand, 45, testified last week that Cosby knocked her out with pills and then sexually assaulted her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Andrea Constand arrives to resume her testimony (Dominick Reuter/Pool Photo via AP)

Cosby, 80, said Ms Constand consented to a sexual encounter. His first trial last year ended with a hung jury.

The defence is trying to cast Ms Constand as an unrequited lover who acted inappropriately by showing interest in the long-married Cosby. She has testified that she saw the former TV star as a mentor and had no romantic interest in him.

Phone records show Ms Constand, the former director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University, made brief calls to Cosby around the time of a Temple home game on February 14 2004, the month after the alleged assault.

“You think you called Mr Cosby to talk about basketball?” Cosby’s defence asked her.

Ms Constand, who has granted permission to be identified in the case, testified that she felt a duty to answer Cosby’s inquiries since he was a powerful alumnus and trustee.

Picking up where he left off on Friday, Thomas Mesereau, for Cosby, questioned Ms Constand about inconsistencies in her police statements and prior testimony.

Mr Mesereau said Ms Constand told police in 2005 that she called Cosby from her university-issued mobile phone just before she arrived at his house on the night of the alleged assault to ensure the gate would be open.

But Ms Constand’s phone records show she did not make any calls to Cosby’s mansion that month.

Ms Constand explained that she may have been mistaken, that there were times Cosby told her in advance that the gate would be open and that she often reached him at another number.

Mr Mesereau opened the retrial last week with a blistering attack on Ms Constand, telling jurors that she is a “con artist” who framed the comedian and cashed in with a 3.4 million dollar (£2.3 million) settlement.

On Monday, the defence lawyer suggested Ms Constand broke her 2006 confidential settlement agreement with Cosby by agreeing to co-operate with law enforcement in the reopened criminal case.

“Didn’t you think when Mr Cosby paid you this large sum of money he was hoping it was all go away?” Mr Mesereau asked, wondering in front of jurors if she had ever offered to give back the money.

Prosecutors have called five other women to the stand who said Cosby drugged and assaulted them, too. The defence has called the other accusers irrelevant to the case.

If convicted, Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison on each of three charges of aggravated indecent assault.

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