(NORRISTOWN, Pa.) — The woman who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and violating her more than a decade ago stood by her story at his sex-crimes trial Wednesday, withstanding hours of often tedious cross-examination that didn’t produce the stumbles the TV star might have hoped for.
Calm and composed, Andrea Constand brushed off suggestions she and Cosby had a romantic relationship before the 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home.
And she explained away the numerous phone calls they had afterward by saying she was merely returning Cosby’s messages about the women’s basketball squad at Temple University, where he was a powerful member of the board of trustees and she was director of team operations.
Constand, 44, left the witness stand after some seven hours of testimony over two days, during which she told the jury that Cosby gave her three blue pills and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay paralyzed on a couch, unable to tell him to stop.
Her long-awaited showdown with the 79-year-old comedian’s lawyers became bogged down Wednesday in an examination of her phone records and police statements, and the defense couldn’t budge her off her account of molestation and broken trust.
During one exchange, Cosby lawyer Angela Agrusa suggested that Constand once enjoyed a romantic dinner at Cosby’s home before the alleged assault.
“You were sitting by the fire. The room was dark. There was a nice mood …,” Agrusa began, paraphrasing Constand’s 2005 statement to police.
“I don’t know what that means,” Constand said.
“The lights were dim and the fire was going,” the lawyer continued.
“I don’t really remember how dim the lights were, but I did have to eat my dinner,” Constand said.
Agrusa contended that the advances Cosby made on Constand on two occasions — touching her thigh one time, and attempting to unbutton her pants and pull down her zipper another — signaled his romantic interest. Constand said she told Cosby she was not interested.
“So you knew — you were alone at his home — that Mr. Cosby was interested in you romantically?” Agrusa asked.
“No, ma’am, he never said a word to me,” Constand said.
Cosby is charged with aggravated indecent assault. The comedian once dubbed America’s Dad could get 10 years in prison if convicted.
Constand testified that she was going to confront Cosby about the assault during an event he was hosting at his home for high school students. At the same time, Constand said, she was bringing Cosby a gift from a mutual acquaintance.
Agrusa seized on the seeming contradiction: “You were going to confront the man you say assaulted you and you’re bringing him bath salts?”
Standing at a podium, the lawyer painstakingly reviewed Constand’s phone records and police statements, hoping to show she changed her mind about the date of the alleged assault and gave authorities an incomplete picture of her friendship with the TV star.
Constand perhaps muted the expected attack by acknowledging some initial confusion over just when the encounter occurred. She said she first thought it was after a group dinner in March and later realized it happened after a private dinner a month or two earlier.
“I was mistaken,” she said, unflustered.
Constand was direct and polite under cross-examination, even when Agrusa’s questioning grew pointed and accusatory. Cosby kept still, looking down at the defense table through most of the morning.
At times, Agrusa stumbled over dates and details in her questions, confusing July for January, and “Canadian police” for the department in Cheltenham Township, where Cosby’s home is situated, prompting a prosecutor to ask for clarification.
At one point, a juror had trouble reading the phone records that Agrusa projected on a courtroom screen, piping up to ask, “Is that an 8?”
Cosby’s lawyers have argued that the sexual encounter with Constand was consensual and have cited phone records showing she called the TV star 53 times afterward, including one call several weeks after the alleged assault that lasted 20 minutes.
But Constand said Wednesday she was merely returning his messages.
Prosecutors said phone records show a consistent pattern of Constand checking her voicemail and then calling Cosby in the two months after the alleged January 2004 assault. Constand said the calls to her university-issued cellphone pertained to Temple women’s basketball, and stopped once she left the school.
“She continued to do her job,” Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said outside court. “This man was a trustee at Temple. Of course she was calling him back.”
Some 60 women have come forward to say Cosby sexually violated them, all but destroying his nice-guy image, but the statute of limitations for prosecution had run out in nearly every case. Constand’s case is the only one in which Cosby has been charged.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are sexual assault victims unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.