UPDATED 3 p.m.: NORRISTOWN, Pa. – The woman at the center of the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby testified Friday that she felt humiliated and “really confused” after he molested her at his home outside Philadelphia in early 2004 – and was now testifying in hopes of getting “justice.”
In testimony that squared with what she told another jury during Cosby’s first trial last June, Andrea Constand told the jury at his retrial here that she had gotten to know Cosby when she was operations manager for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where Cosby was an alumnus and major booster.
She considered him a mentor and friend, she said, but their friendship took a dark turn when she went to his home to discuss her plan to leave Temple and he offered her three little blue pills to help her relax. Thinking they were some herbal remedy, Constand said, she took them and soon felt woozy and became incapacitated.
Cosby then guided her to a sofa, she testified, and she felt him touching her breasts and put his fingers inside of her. “I couldn’t fight him off,” said Constand, now a massage therapist in Canada.
Under questioning by prosecutor Kristen Feden, Constand acknowledged that she had received a settlement of nearly $3.4 million from Cosby as a result of a civil lawsuit she filed against him, and ultimately decided to cooperate in his prosecution.
“I felt the right thing to do would be to cooperate,” she said.
Los Angeles defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau then began what is expected to be a lengthy – and painstaking – cross-examination of Constand, who is scheduled to return to the witness stand on Monday.
He spent late Friday highlighting large and small discrepencies in her various statements to law-enforcement authorities and in the course of the lawsuit.
In particular, he questioned her closely about why she initially said the assault took place in March 2004 – when she ultimately concluded that it happened in January 2004.
“It was just confusion on my part,”said Constand.
Earlier, under questioning by Feden, Constand said Cosby had made two passes at her, but she said she made it clear to him that she had no romantic interest in him, and did not feel threatened by him.
But during cross-examination, Mesereau challenged her, pointing out that she later went to see him at a casino in Connecticut and even visited him in his room there.
“Did you think there would be any interest by him?” asked Mesereau.
“No,” she replied, saying she merely went to his room to pick up some pastry he wanted her to have.
Cosby is the only major Hollywood entertainer to face a jury in the heated atmosphere of the Me Too movement. He is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, has pleaded not guilty and maintains the sexual encounter with Constand was consensual.
Cosby’s first trial ended in June when a jury deadlocked on all charges after more than 50 hours of deliberations. He is now facing a new jury – seven men and five women – selected in Montgomery County, just outside of Philadelphia.
Constand is one of dozens of women who have accused the iconic comedian of drugging and then assaulting them — but she is the only one whose allegation became the focus of a criminal charge. The charges were filed just days before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations was due to expire.
Mesereau, who is known for skillful cross-examination, has already derided Constand in his opening address as a liar, con artist and “so-called victim” out for money, so there is much interest in how he cross-examines Constand, whose credibility is key to the prosecution’s case.
Feden tried to ward off such efforts to portray Constand as a gold-digger, questioning her about the difficulty of becoming such a key witness against a big celebrity.
“This was very uncomfortable for me,” said Constand.
Was there any upside? asked Feden.
“There is no upside,” replied Constand.