Andrea Constand testifies in Bill Cosby assault retrial: ‘I couldn’t fight him off’
Andrea Constand, the key witness in Bill Cosby’s retrial on indecent assault charges, testified Friday that she drank wine and took three blue pills at Cosby’s urging in January 2004, then lost consciousness and, sometime later, was “jolted awake” to find the entertainer sexually assaulting her.
“Were you able to verbalize and tell him to stop?” state prosecutor Kristen Feden asked Constand.
“No,” she replied. “I wanted it to stop. I couldn’t say anything. I was trying to get my hands to move, my legs to move and the message just wasn’t getting there. I was weak, I was limp and I couldn’t fight him off.”
“I was really humiliated. I was in shock. And I was really confused,” Constand added.
Constand’s testimony came on the ninth day of Cosby’s retrial on three charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby has said their sex was consensual, and has pleaded not guilty. His first trial ended last year in a mistrial after a Pennsylvania jury couldn’t come to a unanimous decision.
Several other women told jurors this week they believe Cosby drugged and molested them. Their stories aimed to bolster prosecutors’ argument that Cosby’s attack on Constand wasn’t a singular error but part of a pattern of misbehavior.
Constand aims ‘for justice’
Leading up to Constand’s retelling of the alleged assault, the former Temple University employee on Friday traced her relationship with Cosby, whom she said she met while handling operations for the school’s women’s basketball team. Cosby was a Temple trustee and alumnus.
Constand offered brief details of seven social encounters she had with Cosby before the alleged assault, including one in which she said he put his hand on her thigh and another when she said he tried to “unbutton my button on my pants.”
“I mentioned that I wasn’t here for that, and he respectfully stopped and we never talked about it again,” Constand said of the latter incident. “He got the picture.”
After that encounter — but before the early 2004 incident — “I had no question about my ability to fend off a person that was hitting on me or making a sexual advance on me,” Constand testified.
Constand said she considered Cosby a mentor from whom she sought career advice. Before the alleged assault, she never asked him for money — beyond reimbursement for a train ticket — and thanked him for professional connections he’d helped her make by buying him Temple gear, including hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts, Constand testified.
“My thoughts were that he was a well-respected Temple advocate and trustee,” she told the court. “He was also a community leader, … and that made him a very well-respected person at Temple, and I was grateful for (him) helping me in any way that he did.”
That said, Constand “thought it was a little bit absurd, given that Mr. Cosby was just a little bit younger than my grandfather, he was a married man,” she testified.
Constand began her testimony Friday as prosecutors this week opened their case: by acknowledging that Cosby paid her $3.38 million as part of a civil settlement. Constand said she has no further legal action pending against Cosby, who, in that case, admitted he got prescription sedatives to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
Cosby’s defense attorneys argued this week that Constand was a con artist obsessed with Cosby’s fame and money.
“Ms. Constand why are you here?” Feden asked the chief witness on Friday.
Replied Constand: “For justice.”
‘My life was never the same’
Cosby, who is 80 and legally blind, hung his head as Constand testified and gave no visible reaction.
In describing the alleged assault at Cosby’s home near Philadelphia, Constand explained that after she took the blue pills, she felt “very weak” and was “slurring my words.” Cosby “placed me on the sofa on my left side, and he put a pillow under my head and said just relax there,” she said.
“The next thing I recall is, um, I was kind of jolted awake, and felt Mr. Cosby on the couch beside me, behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully,” Constand testified. “I felt my breasts being touched, and he took my hand and placed my hand on his penis and masturbated himself with my hand. And I was not able to do a thing to fight back.
“I felt his fingers going inside of my vagina, going in and out, very forcefully,” she said.
“My next memory was getting up off the couch, seeing, my bra was up around my neck and my pants were kind of half unzipped,” Constand continued. “I had to kind of get myself together … and started walking toward the door.”
Cosby told her there was a muffin and tea on the table, Constand testified. She sipped the tea, took the top of the muffin and drove herself home.
Over the next months, Constand and Cosby spoke “just to check in with sport and scores,” she said, noting that such interaction was part of her job at Temple. Constand said she also spoke with Cosby to arrange tickets for her family to attend one of his shows.
Then, a year after the alleged assault, Constand “woke up crying,” she testified. “I had a really bad dream. I called my mother and I told her just what had happened to me in 15 words or less.”
“I told her Mr. Cosby had sexually violated me, that he had given me three blue pills and he had sexually violated me without my consent,” Constand testified.
After that, Constand called two lawyers in Pennsylvania to discuss the incident and reported it to police, she said.
“My life was never the same,” she said.
Constand also gave Cosby’s phone number to her mother, she testified.
“Mr. Cosby called us back the next day,” she said, and “admitted” to what he did and apologized to her and her mother.
Recounting that phone conversation, Constand said, “‘You put your fingers inside my vagina, and you touched my breasts, and you took my hand and put it on your penis,'” she testified. “And after a very short time on the telephone with my mom there, he eventually apologized for what he did.”
Constand said she then received several voicemail messages from Cosby representatives, including the comedian’s one-time attorney, Marty Singer, who spoke about setting up an education fund for Constand. She didn’t call him back, she testified.
Defense looks for inconsistencies
Following an afternoon break, Cosby defense attorney Tom Mesereau began his cross-examination of Constand by asking her about inconsistencies in her statements to police about the alleged assault. Mesereau noted that one report said the alleged assault took place in March, while other police reports said it occurred in January.
“I was mistaken,” Constand said in response.
The defense raised the same issue with Constand during her testimony in Cosby’s first trial.
Mesereau asked Constand whether she told police that Cosby had “inflicted possible intercourse” on her the night of the alleged assault, as it says in one police report. Constand said she did not.
“It says possible intercourse, but you didn’t tell them that?” Mesereau asked.
“That’s correct,” she said.
Testimony for the day ended as the lawyer was questioning her about her job at Temple and whether she had complained about the pay and tried to make additional money through other sources.
After some back and forth about whether there was time to pursue certain lines of questioning, the parties decided to go home a little early instead.
Constand is expected to retake the stand Monday when court resumes.
Other women describe ‘prior bad acts’
Constand is Cosby’s chief accuser in a case that lacks virtually any forensic evidence. Prosecutors in his retrial were allowed to seek testimony from as many as five other women who claim Cosby also drugged and assaulted them.
Among the “prior bad acts” witnesses was TV star and supermodel Janice Dickinson, who testified Thursday that she confronted Cosby and wanted to strike him after she said he drugged her and raped her in 1982 at a hotel in Lake Tahoe.
“I wanted to hit him, I wanted to punch him in the face,” Dickinson said. “I can remember feeling anger, disgust, and ashamed.”
Dickinson, now 63, said Cosby gave her a blue pill shortly before she began to feel lightheaded and had trouble speaking. Cosby then got on top her, she testified.
“He smelled like cigars and espresso and his body odor,” she said. “I couldn’t move, I felt like I was rendered motionless.”
“Here was America’s dad on top of me, happily married man with five children and how very wrong it was,” she said.
During a spirited cross-examination, Cosby’s defense attorney, Tom Mesereau, asked why a passage in Dickinson’s 2002 book about the Lake Tahoe visit does not say she and Cosby had sex.
“I wasn’t under oath when I wrote that book,” she testified.
Heidi Thomas, Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney and Lise-Lotte Lublin have each testified over the past few days that Cosby incapacitated them with drugs or wine and then assaulted them in separate incidents decades ago.
Cosby’s defense attorneys have worked to point out inconsistencies in their stories.