NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby's accuser, Andrea Constand, stepped down from the witness stand Wednesday after eight hours of testimony and cross-examination about what she says the TV icon did to her as she lay helpless on his couch more than 13 years ago.
She stuck to her story — that Cosby drugged and molested her at his nearby home in 2004 — and ended her testimony with a re-direct by prosecutors seeking to undermine one of the pillars of Cosby's defense: that Constand had been inconsistent in some details, including exactly when the encounter happened.
Cosby’s attorneys tried to argue that Constand intentionally changed the date of the encounter from March 2004 to January 2004, in order to ensure the timeline would fit into other evidence.
But Constand said she merely misspoke in giving the March date during her sworn statement to police.
Before she left the witness stand, cross-examination of Constand resumed. She denied defense suggestions that she and Cosby had a romantic relationship leading up to the encounter. “It wasn’t a romantic time, no,” Constand said.
And she came under pressure from defense attorney Angela Agrusa about her behavior after the encounter when she repeatedly called Cosby.
“In the month after the alleged assault, you were calling Mr. Cosby a lot,” Agrusa said, after presenting to the jury the date and time of dozens of calls.
Cosby, 79, arrived for Day 3 of his trial at the courthouse in suburban Philadelphia as usual, with bodyguards and assistants to help him walk. But this time he was accompanied by actress Sheila Frazier, who co-starred with him in the 1978 comedy California Suite. Also with him: Frazier's husband, John Atchison, a celebrity hairstylist whose client roster includes Cosby and his wife of more than 50 years, Camille.
Neither Camille nor any of their four daughters have been seen so far at Cosby's trial; on the first day, Monday, Cosby's former TV daughter, Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Rudy on The Cosby Show, was by his side, declaring her continuing support for her TV dad.
Another notable attendee at the trial on Wednesday: Civil-rights leader Mary Frances Berry, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to the start of proceedings, she approached the defense table, where Cosby rose and warmly greeted her.
Cosby is being tried on three counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from an encounter with Constand — a former Temple University basketball manager who considered him a friend and mentor — at his nearby home in 2004. She says he drugged her to the point of near-paralysis and then molested her; he says their encounter was consensual.
On Tuesday, Constand, 44, took the stand to detail her accusations in public for the first time, describing how she met him alone at his home and accepted three blue pills from him that he told her were herbal remedies that would help her "relax."
She lost consciousness, then was jolted awake when she felt Cosby’s hand "groping my breasts." She said she felt his hand in her vagina and he placed her hand on his penis. She wanted to stop him, she said, but wasn’t able to do so.
“I was frozen ...The next thing I recall is putting my two feet on the ground and feeling my (bra) around my neck,” she testified. Tearfully, she said she felt humiliated and confused after she drove away from Cosby's estate the next morning.
At the defense table, Cosby leaned in to listen, whispered to his lawyer and, during some of Constand's testimony, shook his head.
Cosby's defense team, led by Brian McMonagle and Agrusa, began cross-examination late Tuesday, pressing Constand on why she kept calling Cosby after the encounter, on why she waited a year to report it to authorities, and why she failed to tell police that she and Cosby were friends and that she had met alone with him several times before, including times when he touched her inappropriately and she fended him off.
Agrusa asserted on Wednesday that Constand’s account in court differed from what she told authorities in 2005, giving a different date for the encounter with Cosby than she had originally reported.
“You hadn’t told the officers that previously you had gone to Mr. Cosby’s home, and had wine and sat by a fire,” Agrusa said. She also argued Constand misstated the amount of time she and Cosby had been friends.
“Ma’am I was mistaken, it was 2002,” Constand said.
Defense attorneys also could bring up phone calls between Cosby and Constand and her mother, some of which were taped. According to the charging document in the case, Constand's mother, Gianna Constand, noticed, after her daughter moved back to her native Toronto, that her personality and demeanor changed and she suffered from nightmares. A year after the encounter, in January 2005, Constand told her mother what she said happened to her.
“I told her that Mr. Cosby has sexually violated me and had given me pills,” Constand testified Tuesday.
Shocked, her mother called Cosby to confront him, the charging document says, and eventually spoke to him by phone for more than two hours. Gianna Constand is expected to be called as a witness for the prosecution.
Constand has never spoken about her encounter with Cosby because the terms of the civil settlement she reached with him in 2006 barred either of them from doing so. But parts of Cosby's deposition in that lawsuit, expected to be used by the prosecution against him at the trial, were released in the summer of 2015. His own words in the deposition were cited as new evidence by District Attorney Kevin Steele in charging him, a few weeks before the state's statute of limitations would expire. Constand's deposition from that lawsuit remains sealed.
Lawyers in the case estimate the trial will last about two weeks.
Puente reported from McLean, Va.
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