Bill Cosby's chief complainant tells jury she wants justice
Cosby spokesperson slams accusers' testimony as 'poetic licensing, better known as alternative facts'
Bill Cosby's chief complainant took the witness stand Friday at his sexual assault retrial, telling a jury she wants justice after five other women testified that the man once revered as "America's Dad" is a serial rapist who harmed them, too.
Andrea Constand's appearance was her second chance to confront Cosby in court after his first trial ended with a hung jury. This time, though, she will face a defence team intent on portraying her as a "con artist" who framed him for money.
Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau told jurors in his opening statement on Tuesday that Constand was a pauper who stiffed roommates on bills, racked up credit card debt and once ran a Ponzi scheme until she "hit the jackpot" in 2006, when Cosby paid her $3.4 million US to settle a civil lawsuit Constand filed after the district attorney at the time dropped the case.
Constand told jurors Friday she has nothing to gain financially now by wanting Cosby locked up.
"Ms. Constand, why are you here?" prosecutor Kristen Feden asked.
"For justice," Constand replied.
Constand, a tall and athletic Canadian who turned 45 this week, said Cosby drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in January 2004 when she was a women's basketball administrator at his alma mater, Temple University.
She said Cosby offered her pills after she said she was "stressed" about telling the Temple women's basketball coach of her plans to leave to study massage therapy in Canada. He called the pills "your friends" and told her they would "help take the edge off."
Instead, Constand said, the pills made her black out. She awoke to find Cosby penetrating her with his fingers and putting her hand on his penis. She said she was still incapacitated and "was not able to do anything" about the assault.
It's the only allegation among dozens against Cosby that has led to criminal charges. He says Constand consented to a sexual encounter and denies she was incapacitated.
Attorneys for Cosby and attorneys for several of the women who have accused him of sexual assault spoke to reporters on the steps of the suburban Philadelphia courthouse as the trial broke for lunch Friday.
Attorney Gloria Allred, a civil rights attorney who represents 33 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, said a settlement agreement that Constand received shouldn't be used against her and instead should be viewed as compensation for a person "who had strong evidence she was victimized."
Cosby's attorneys said again that they believe that Constand found a way to extort money from their client, and they believed the other women were regretful about a consensual affair with a married man.
Defence attacks Constand's credibility
Mesereau spent the afternoon trying to poke holes in Constand's story, going through a thick binder of police statements and prior testimony as he probed discrepancies between what Constand has said in the past and what she said Friday morning in court.
In her testimony Friday, Constand denied ever having intimate contact with Cosby prior to the alleged assault at his home. But in a 2005 deposition that Mesereau showed her, Constand said she'd told her mother that she was affectionate toward him.
Cosby's lawyers also tried to undermine his chief accuser's credibility by questioning why she promoted an alleged pyramid scheme.
Under cross-examination, Constand struggled to explain why she sent emails soliciting money for the purported pyramid scheme during the time she worked at Temple University.
Constand said she didn't know much about the company and was only helping a friend.
The defence says Constand outlined her get-rich scheme to a Temple colleague, Marguerite Jackson. Cosby's lawyers plans to call Jackson as a witness and say she will testify that Constand mused about framing a celebrity before she lodged sexual abuse allegations against Cosby in 2005.
Jackson, a longtime Temple official, has said that she and Constand worked closely together, had been friends and had shared hotel rooms several times. She has said Constand once commented to her about setting up a "high-profile person" and filing suit.
On the stand Friday, Constand said she remembers having a hotel room to herself at Temple's away basketball games and did not recall ever rooming with Jackson.
The other women's harrowing, sometimes tearful stories could help.
Janice Dickinson, a onetime model, told jurors on Thursday that Cosby gave her a pill he claimed would ease her menstrual cramps, but instead left her immobilized and unable to stop an assault she called "gross."
"I didn't consent to this. Here was America's Dad, on top of me. A married man, father of five kids, on top of me," Dickinson said.
"I was thinking how wrong it was. How very wrong it was."
Dickinson, 27 at the time, testified she felt vaginal pain and, after waking up the next morning, noticed semen between her legs. She said Cosby looked at her "like I was crazy" when she confronted him about what had happened.
"I wanted to hit him. I wanted to punch him in the face."
Another accuser, taking the witness stand after Dickinson, said Cosby prodded her to drink two shots in his Las Vegas hotel suite, then had her sit between his knees and started petting her head.
Lise-Lotte Lublin told jurors she lost consciousness and doesn't remember anything else about that night in 1989 — a time when Cosby was at the height of his fame starring as sweater-wearing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on America's top-rated TV show, The Cosby Show.
"I trusted him because he's America's Dad," Lublin said. "I trusted him because he's a figure people trusted for many years, including myself."
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand and the other women have done.