Norristown (United States) (AFP) – The Canadian massage therapist whom Bill Cosby allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted 14 years ago told the disgraced entertainer’s American retrial Friday that she “could not fight him off.”
The now frail and isolated 80-year-old could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand when she was a Temple University employee in January 2004.
Cosby’s first trial in Norristown, a Philadelphia suburb, ended in a hung jury in June, with a sequestered panel hopelessly deadlocked after six days of testimony and 52 hours of deliberations.
The case has trashed the legacy of the actor once adored by millions as “America’s Dad” for his role as lovable father and obstetrician Cliff Huxtable on the hit 1984-92 television series “The Cosby Show.”
Wearing a white blazer and coral top, the former basketball player sat erect in the witness box, calmly responding to questions from the prosecution but became more nervous under cross-examination from the defense.
Cosby’s lawyer has branded 45-year-old Constand a “con artist” who falsely accused the star to bag a $3.38 million civil settlement in 2006 in a bid to escape debt.
Prosecutors in Montgomery County reopened the case in 2015, arguing new evidence had come to light, while at the same time an avalanche of women came forward publicly to accuse the star of decades of assault.
But the three counts against Constand is the only criminal case to stick, as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.
Constand knew Cosby while she was director of operations of women’s basketball at Temple, where the actor was on the board of trustees, saying she considered him a mentor.
– ‘Wanted it to stop’ –
On the night of the alleged assault, she said she went to Cosby’s Philadelphia mansion to discuss her impending resignation.
The actor offered her three blue pills to “help take the edge off” which she took believing they were a natural remedy, she said.
“I trusted him,” Constand said. But she allegedly developed double vision, started slurring her words and lost consciousness. When she came too, she said Cosby was behind her on the couch.
“My vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully,” she said.
“I felt my breasts being touched and he took my hand and placed my hand on his penis and masturbated himself with my hand.
“I wanted it to stop… I was limp and I could not fight him off,” she said. “I was really humiliated. I was in shock.”
Cosby, dressed in a dark suit, tie and white shirt, looked variously in Constand’s direction and down at the table as she spoke.
Constand followed five previous women who also alleged they were drugged and assaulted by Cosby, a man they looked up to as a mentor and who often befriended their families to win trust.
Judge Steven O’Neill’s decision to allow them to testify, compared to just one first time around, presents one of the toughest challenges to the defense.
– ‘Absurd’ –
Under sustained cross-examination, defense lawyer Tom Mesereau exposed inconsistencies between what she told police, said today and in testimony given under oath for the civil suit in 2006.
“It was just my mistake,” she replied when asked why she said first that the assault took place in March, the night they dined at a Chinese restaurant, rather than January, the night she hadn’t eaten.
Mesereau attempted to paint her as naive at best or deceptive at worst for claiming she never thought Cosby found her attractive given passes he had made, and gifts of perfume and cashmere sweaters.
Cosby claims that he gave the Canadian an over-the-counter antihistamine to relieve stress and that relations were consensual.
Constand visited Cosby’s home six times, as well as drove to Connecticut to see him at a hotel and twice met him in New York, never once seeing his wife and seemingly never questioning her whereabouts.
Testimony was halted until Monday after the defense presented 100 pages of emails, which they claim tie Constand to a pyramid scheme, and which the judge said she needed time to read.
“It rings a bell but I don’t know what it is,” Constand said.
She called any idea of a romantic relationship “absurd.”
Cosby, she said, was “just a little bit younger than my grandfather. He was a married man and I absolutely never showed an interest… I wasn’t threatened and I didn’t judge him.”