NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby admitted sexual contact with the woman who says he drugged and molested her, but told investigators back in 2005 that their “petting” was consensual and that she was not in any way incapacitated, the jury in his sexual assault retrial learned on Tuesday.
He said much of the same during a deposition in a lawsuit filed against Cosby by Andrea Constand, the key prosecution witness who has testified that Cosby sexually assaulted her in early 2004. Parts of that deposition were read in court.
The jury also heard Tuesday that prosecutors initially declined to bring charges against the entertainer in 2005. Constand then filed her lawsuit against Cosby, which was ultimately settled for $3.38 million. But a new district attorney later reviewed the case and Cosby was charged in December 2015 — just days before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations was due to expire.
Cosby’s words underscore the he said, she said nature of the prosecution of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Henry Cosby, Jr. — as the case against the entertainer is formally captioned.
Sgt. Richard Schaffer of the Cheltenham Township Police Department just outside of Philadelphia told the jury about Cosby’s January 2005 interview with him and several other investigators. It took place at a law office in Manhattan, he said, and Cosby described his relationship with Constand as a friendship that had become romantic.
He told the investigators that a sexual encounter did take place — but that Constand never told him to stop, Schaffer told the jury.
“’We were fully clothed. We were petting,’” Schaffer quoted Cosby as having said, reading directly from the police report of that interview. “’I enjoyed it.’”
Cosby, now 80, 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 and has pleaded not guilty.
Cosby’s first trial ended in June when a different 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 here in Montgomery County.
Prosecutors indicated on Tuesday that they are close to wrapping up their case against the iconic entertainer, who was once known as “America’s Dad,” and could rest later this week. The defense could then present its own case.
In her testimony, Constand gave a strikingly different account of what happened on the night in question in early 2004 at Cosby’s home in Cheltenham Township.
She testified 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, and viewed him as a mentor.
She said when she went to his home in early 2004, he offered her three small blue pills to help her relax. She said she believed they were some kind of herbal remedy to help with stress, so she took them because she trusted him, and soon became incapacitated. Then, she said, she felt his fingers inside of her.
“I couldn’t fight him off,” Constand told the jury last week
Schaffer testified that Cosby said during the police interview that he and Constand had been on a bed together, but no sexual contact occurred when they were at a Connecticut casino hotel in November 2003.
“’I held her in my arms and we talked,’” the sergeant quoted Cosby as having said.
In her testimony, Constand denied any such contact with Cosby, saying that she had gone to his room only to pick up some baked goods the entertainer had for her.
Focusing on the evening that Constand contends she was molested, Schaffer said Cosby admitted having given her a pill and half a Benadryl because she had been complaining about not sleeping well. And then Cosby told them that they spent some time on a sofa and engaged in petting.
According to the police interview, Cosby said he told Constand’s mother about their sexual contact, acknowledging he had touched her daughter’s breasts and vagina, but assuring her that there was no “penile penetration.”
During the deposition, Cosby described what he called a “necking session” that began when he gave her three half pills of Benadryl to help her relax and continued on a sofa.
There, he said, he digitally penetrated Constand. He said he believed she had an orgasm and said she did not express any negative reaction to what happened.
Constand is one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of drugging and assaulting them, but she is the only one whose allegation became the focus of a criminal case.