NORRISTOWN, Pa. – The testimonies of Bill Cosby’s accusers in his sexual assault retrial shocked the defense team and even led them to twice ask for a mistrial on Wednesday.
All three witnesses charged back at the defense or directly at Cosby while on the witness stand in the Montgomery County Courthouse. These three witnesses are each a part of five women who were allowed to testify about “prior bad acts” to establish commonalities between Cosby’s past alleged sexual assaults.
In re-cross examination, Cosby’s defense attorney Kathleen Bliss quizzed accuser Heidi Thomas, a music teacher from Colorado who alleges she was sexually assaulted in 1984 by Cosby during an acting lesson
Bliss questioned Thomas about her keeping “mementos” of her times with Cosby over many years and her support of Andrea Constand, who is a former Temple employee and the sole accuser in the retrial.
Bliss then asked why she wanted to support the other women who have come forward against the comedian and former university trustee.
“I want to see a serial rapist convicted,” Thomas swiftly replied.
Immediately after Thomas’ testimony, the defense filed a motion with O’Neill for a mistrial, because of her opinion of Cosby that may affect the jury panel ability to try this case.
The defense also attempted to block “prior bad act” victim Chelan Lasha, citing her past conviction for a false report to police in 2007 when she was 38 years old. The defense argued that because she “was an adult when she committed the crime and fully understood the gravity of the offense when she committed it,” she should be removed from the witness list.
Bliss gave a warning to Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill that there would be “a minefield out there” if Lasha is allowed to testify.
O’Neill said he would allow the defense to refer to her previous criminal charges.
And a minefield there was.
As soon as Lasha sat down at the witness stand, she was in tears. Throughout her testimony, she had to take several breaks to breathe when detailing the events that she alleged happened in 1986 right after she graduated high school in Las Vegas, Nevada at age 17.
She said her family had ties to the production group Carsey-Warner Company that Cosby was involved with. She and her grandmother had been in contact with Cosby and was told by her grandmother that Cosby wanted to see her at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas to get pictures taken for her aspiring modeling career. Lasha also worked at the hotel.
Lasha went up to the Elvis Presley Suite of the hotel where Cosby opened the door. A photographer took photos of Lasha, then a relaxation specialist cameos.
Lasha had a cold, and once the specialist left, Cosby offered her “a little blue pill” that he said was an antihistamine and he told her to take it with two shots of amaretto.
She said she soon became “a little woozy” and Cosby led her to his bed. Once in bed, she said she couldn’t move. Cosby allegedly began to grope her and hump her leg. She then became unconscious.
The next thing she remembers was waking up to Cosby clapping in her face.
“Daddy said wake up, daddy says wake up,” Lasha said she heard Cosby say to her.
“Dr. Huxtable wouldn’t do this,” Lasha said she thought to herself. “I don’t know why you’re doing this to me, you’re supposed to help me be successful.”
The defense attempted to pinpoint some discrepancies in her police reports and public statements. Bliss also noted that Lasha went to see Cosby in his show at the hotel a few days later.
While O’Neill was giving the jury directions for lunch, Lasha interrupted and looked directly at Cosby: “You remember, don’t you Mr. Cosby?” she asked.
The defense then motioned for a mistrial for this public statement, but was immediately denied by O’Neill.
The last person to come to the witness stand on Wednesday was Janice Baker-Kinney, a television floor manager who lives in California. She outlined an alleged assault that occurred at a Harrah’s House in Reno, Nevada in 1982.
This is the same hotel Thomas said she was supposed to stay when she visited Cosby in 1984.
Baker-Kinney said she was an employee at the Harrah’s Hotel, where she often worked as a bartender. A coworker of hers invited her to a “pizza party” at Cosby’s later that night. She attended the party and expected it to be a large party. She soon found out only her coworker, Cosby and her were in attendance
The group began to play backgammon and other games before Baker-Kinney drank one beer. She alleged that Cosby then gave her a pill that she believes he said was a quaalude. He then added on another one and said, “No, you can take two, it’ll be OK.”
She passed out soon after and fell into the board game they were playing. Cosby laid her on the couch where he began to grope her. She awoke to find herself in Cosby’s bed with no clothes on, and a “sticky wetness that felt like I had had sex the night before.”
“The guilt comes in, I was to blame for what happened to me,” Baker-Kinney told the court. “I did the stereotype on myself. It still takes everything in me to say the words, ‘I was raped,’ because of the guilt.”
Both Lasha and Baker-Kinney are represented by Gloria Allred, who is a Philadelphia native women’s rights attorney that defends many of the Cosby accusers. There is no open litigation between Cosby and these women.
Exchange was heated between Cosby’s defense attorney Tom Mesereau and Baker-Kinney during cross examination.
Mesereau asked about Baker-Kinney’s past drug and alcohol use, which she disclosed she had taken quaaludes before but is a recovering alcoholic. He also asked about numerous statements she made that she hadn’t realized she was raped until 2014 when many of the women came forward.
“If you want to twist my words around to say that I was never raped, then you are incorrect,” Baker-Kinney told Mesereau.
Cross examination is expected to continue on Thursday morning.
Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault.