NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The first week of Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial ended with testimony from former Temple employee Andrea Constand, who is the central accuser in the case.
The defense began its attack on Constand’s credibility Friday afternoon, but its cross-examination was cut short due to time and will continue on Monday.
Cosby’s lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau was able to start establishing a history of financial problems, which he made clear in his opening statement on Tuesday is the reason Constand sought out a relationship with Bill Cosby and ultimately falsely accused the wealthy comedian and university trustee of sexual assault.
The prosecution began its three-hour long questioning Friday morning with the $3.38 million settlement that Constand received from Cosby in a 2005 civil suit — the sum that has come under fire by the defense and been used to fuel their plan to paint Constand as a money-grabbing liar.
But Constand told Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden that she is here for one thing.
“For justice,” she said.
The defense tried to tell a different story — one where Constand was struggling financially and would do anything to make money, and she did hit the “jackpot” after the civil suit, Mesereau said in his opening statement on Tuesday.
Mesereau asked Constand about a previous failed business endeavor, where she allegedly borrowed nearly $6,000 from an investor.
He also attempted to present Constand’s emails that he said shows Constand was a part of a pyramid scheme and that she allegedly asked about getting a part-time job while she was employed by Temple.
Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill did not allow the defense to question Constand about these claims without allowing her to read her own emails first. This line of questioning will likely continue on Monday.
Mesereau noted several inconsistencies in Constand’s reports to Durham Police, Cheltenham Police, the Montgomery County Detectives Bureau and in her sworn testimony from the 2005 civil suit between her and Cosby.
According to a Cheltenham Police report, Constand told police the alleged assault took place in March 2004 when she claims she confronted Cosby about the assault. She then told police the assault took place in January 2004, two months before.
She also was inconsistent in multiple police reports about her relationship with Cosby prior to the assault.
A Durham Police report called Constand and Cosby “casual acquaintances,” but Constand has described Cosby as a friend rather than acquaintance in the first 18 months she knew him.
Constand said Cosby would regularly call her to ask about the status of Temple’s sports teams. The two got to know each other, and Cosby invited her to his Montgomery County home several times — some where she was alone and some with restaurateurs and community leaders in Philadelphia. Cosby also invited her to his shows and meetings in New York City and Connecticut.
Cosby tried to help Constand break into the broadcast industry because she studied communications at the University of Arizona.
She told jurors about two instances with Cosby before the alleged assault — one where he touched her thigh and one where he tried to unbutton her pants. She rejected the advances, but said she still never felt threatened by Cosby.
She said she never thought of their relationship as romantic or sexual, but Mesereau’s questioned Constand about the nature of their relationship.
“Did you ever see his wife?” Mesereau asked. Constand said no. “Did you ask?” he asked. Again, Constand said no.
He questioned her about why she entered through the back of Cosby’s house instead of the front door. She said she was instructed to do so.
“You didn’t think he was physically and sexually attracted to you?” Mesereau asked repeatedly. Constand still said no.
Constand detailed the alleged assault Friday morning to prosecutors.
One night in January 2004, Cosby invited Constand to his home to discuss the future of her career at Temple. She said she was planning to leave the university and pursue a career in massage therapy. While she was at his home, she said he gave her three blue pills.
“These are your friends. It’ll help take the edge off,” Constant said Cosby told her as he handed her the pills.
“I trusted him. I took the pills,” she said.
She became increasingly immobile and unable to speak and remembers being “jolted awake.” She described Cosby assaulting her while her body felt limp and weak. She said she was still unable to speak.
She said she left Cosby’s home around 5 a.m. About two months later, she said she confronted Cosby about the alleged assault, but he was “evasive.”
She never told anyone about the assault until nearly a year later, when she disclosed to her mom and shortly after reported it to police in Canada, where Constand moved after leaving Temple in March 2004.
“I was very scared…because he was a Temple trustee, a powerful man, an entertainer, a very famous person,” Constand told jurors about reporting the assault to police.
Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.