Monday 27 January 2020

Bill Cosby’s chief accuser says she wants justice in sex trial

Andrea Constand’s appearance was her second chance to confront the TV star in court.

Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

By Michael R Sisak

Bill Cosby’s chief accuser has given evidence at his sexual assault retrial, telling a jury she wants justice after five other women told the court he was 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 she will face a defence team intent on portraying her as a “con artist” who framed him for money.

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

Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau told jurors in an opening statement that Ms Constand had 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 a civil lawsuit she filed after a district attorney dropped the case.

Ms Constand, 45, told jurors on Friday that she has nothing to gain financially now by wanting Cosby locked up.

“Ms Constand, why are you here?” prosecutor Kristen Feden asked.

“For justice,” she replied.

Ms Constand, an athletic six-footer, said 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.

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 her native Canada.

He called the pills “your friends” and told her they would “help take the edge off”, the court was told

Instead, Ms Constand said, the pills instead made her black out, and she awoke to find Cosby performing a sex act on her. She said she was still incapacitated and “was not able to do anything” about the assault.

Her allegation is the only one among dozens against Cosby that has led to criminal charges. He says she consented to a sexual encounter and denies she was incapacitated.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said his new defence team has researched Ms Constand’s evidence and statements from last year and found “even more inconsistencies”.

Mr Wyatt on Thursday derided the five additional accusers as “distractors” and “advocates for the prosecution” and for Ms Constand. Just one other accuser was permitted to give evidence at Cosby’s first trial.

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 dollars”.

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