Sunday 19 January 2020

Bill Cosby accuser tells sex assault trial there was no prior romance

Andrea Constand arrives for the third day of Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial (Mark Makela/AP)
Andrea Constand arrives for the third day of Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial (Mark Makela/AP)

The woman who accuses Bill Cosby of sexual assault has denied any prior romance between them.

The entertainer's defence team has resumed its cross-examination of Andrea Constand one day after she broke her long public silence by telling his trial he gave her three blue pills and then assaulted her in 2004 as she lay paralysed, unable to tell him to stop.

Cosby's lawyer Angela Agrusa suggested Constand, a 44-year-old former employee of the basketball programme at Temple University, once enjoyed a romantic dinner at Cosby's home before the alleged assault.

"You were sitting by the fire. The room was dark. There was a nice mood," Ms Agrusa began, paraphrasing Ms Constand's 2005 statement to police.

"I don't know what that means," Ms Constand said.

"The lights were dim and the fire was going," the lawyer continued.

"I don't really remember how dim the lights were, but I did have to eat my dinner," Ms Constand said.

Ms Agrusa also spent a painstaking hour going over Ms Constand's phone records, hoping to show she changed her mind about the date she says Cosby assaulted her.

Cosby had earlier arrived at the courthouse in Norristown, Philadelphia, for the third day of his trial accompanied by actress Sheila Frazier, who starred with him in the 1978 comedy California Suite.

Cosby, 79, is charged with aggravated indecent assault and he could be jailed for 10 years if convicted.

Ms Constand managed the women's basketball team at Temple, Cosby's alma mater, while he was a high-profile trustee.

She told the court on Tuesday that she felt her continued friendship with Cosby after the alleged assault was important to the school's athletics department.

Cosby's lawyers have tried to poke holes in her story, citing differences between her courtroom testimony and the accounts she gave police and in a lawsuit in 2005.

The defence has argued the two had a romantic relationship, that Ms Constand was not incapacitated, and that the sexual encounter was consensual.

They have also pointed out that phone records show Ms Constand called Cosby 53 times after she says he assaulted her. Ms Constand told the jury the calls mostly involved the women's basketball team, especially around tournament time.

Before Tuesday, Ms Constand had never spoken about Cosby in public, barred from doing so under the terms of a confidential settlement they reached in 2006. Her deposition from that lawsuit remains sealed.

Some 60 women have come forward to say Cosby sexually violated them, all but destroying his nice-guy image, but the statute of limitations for prosecution had run out in nearly every case.

Ms Constand's case is the only one in which Cosby has been charged.


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