Tuesday 25 September 2018

Bill Cosby knocked me out with pills before sex attack, woman tells court

Andrea Constand gave evidence at the retrial of the US comedian.

Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby

By Michael R Sisak, Associated Press

Bill Cosby’s chief accuser has given evidence at his sexual assault retrial, declaring that he knocked her out with three blue pills and then attacked her at his 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 as she described how Cosby — the celebrity she viewed as a mentor and friend — had betrayed her trust.

Cosby’s lawyer, who has blasted Ms Constand as a “con artist” who levelled 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 her police statements and prior testimony. He pointed out discrepancies between what she said in the past and her testimony on Friday.

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Bill Cosby

Under questioning by prosecutors, Ms 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, Ms Constand said, the pills instead made her black out. She awoke to find the actor known as “America’s Dad” sexually assaulting her.

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

Ms Constand said she awoke between 4 and 5am to find her bra up around her neck and her trousers 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, Ms Constand said: “I was really humiliated. I was in shock. And I was really confused.”

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Andrea Constand walks into the courtroom (Corey Perrine/AP)

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 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 dollars to settle the civil lawsuit she filed after the district attorney at the time dropped the case.

On the stand, Ms 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.

Ms 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”.

Ms Constand testified that Cosby had made previous sexual advances, but she was not 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,” Ms Constand said of the sexual interest he had 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.”

Ms 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 family sitcom The Cosby Show faces up to 10 years in prison on each of three related aggravated indecent assault charges.

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

Press Association

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