Witness tells court Cosby drugged and assaulted her

Former Temple University employee Andrea Constand testifying with harrowing details that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004.VIDEO: REUTERS
Bill Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Bill Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

NORRISTOWN (Pennsylvania) • Comedian Bill Cosby's trial for sexual assault opened with tearful testimony as prosecutors painted the star as a sexual predator: one who established trust with his alleged victims before incapacitating them with drugs and alcohol.

The pioneering American black actor faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, with each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a US$25,000 (S$34,500) fine.

The 79-year-old, for decades feted as "America's Dad", is on trial for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting a Temple University employee at his Philadelphia mansion 13 years ago.

Around 60 women have accused the Emmy-winning television star of being a serial sexual predator for decades. But his fate rests on the allegations of just one woman, Ms Andrea Constand, over one alleged incident in January 2004. It is the only criminal case against him as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

Ms Constand, 44, was director of basketball operations at Temple University, where Mr Cosby served on the board of trustees at the time of the alleged assault in January 2004.

Ms Constand, a Canadian, alleges that Mr Cosby plied her with pills and wine before assaulting her after she had sought career advice. Mr Cosby says he gave the woman Benadryl to relieve stress and insists their sexual relations were consensual.

"As she went in and out of consciousness, she witnessed her body being used to sexually gratify the defendant," prosecution lawyer Kristen Feden told the court on Monday.

Judge Steven O'Neill has allowed the prosecution to call as a witness only one of the other accusers, Ms Kelly Johnson. A former assistant to Mr Cosby's Hollywood agent, she told the jury that the actor drugged and sexually assaulted her at a hotel in 1996.

Ms Johnson said she held Mr Cosby in the "highest regard and esteem" until he invited her for lunch and insisted she take a pill to "relax".

When she "came to", Ms Johnson said, she was lying on the bed.

"My breasts were out, and I felt naked" and "he made me touch his penis", Ms Johnson added, before breaking into sobs.

Mr Cosby's lawyer, Mr Brian McMonagle, attacked Ms Constand's credibility and said the alleged assault never happened.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Witness tells court Cosby drugged and assaulted her'. Print Edition | Subscribe