Accuser gives emotional testimony in Cosby trial

Bill Cosby leaving court with his team after the second day of his trial in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. The Emmy-winning TV star faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault against his accuser. But he says their sexual relations were consensual.
Bill Cosby leaving court with his team after the second day of his trial in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. The Emmy-winning TV star faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault against his accuser. But he says their sexual relations were consensual.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Bill Cosby leaving court with his team after the second day of his trial in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. The Emmy-winning TV star faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault against his accuser. But he says their sexual relations were consensual.
MS ANDREA CONSTAND PHOTOS: REUTERS

She says he gave her pills, wine before sexually assaulting her

NORRISTOWN (Pennsylvania) • The main accuser in Bill Cosby's trial has given emotional testimony in court, delivering her first public account about the night he allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her 13 years ago.

In one of America's biggest celebrity trials, the disgraced 79-year-old star faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a US$25,000 (S$34,500) fine.

Around 60 women have publicly accused the Emmy-winning television star and comedian of being a serial sexual predator for decades.

But his fate rests on the allegations of just one, Ms Andrea Constand, about an encounter at his Philadelphia mansion in January 2004.

It is the only criminal case against Cosby, as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

"I wanted it to stop," 44-year-old Ms Constand said on the second day of the trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania about the evening in question.

BETRAYED MY TRUST

He was somebody I trusted, a mentor and somewhat of an older figure to me.

MS ANDREA CONSTAND, on Bill Cosby.

Her testimony is central to the case against the star of The Cosby Show, one of the most popular shows in the history of television.

Ms Constand said the pioneering black comedian, whom she considered a mentor, gave her three pills and wine before sexually assaulting her on his couch .

The then-30-year-old director of women's basketball at Temple University - where Cosby was serving on the board of trustees - said she had asked the television star if the pills were herbal and he indicated that they were.

About half an hour later, Ms Constand said, she had trouble talking and difficulty moving and was suffering double vision.

After briefly losing consciousness, she felt Cosby touching her private parts, she testified.

"In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move, get my legs to move, but I was frozen and those messages didn't get there," she said, her voice breaking.

Tuesday marked her first public appearance since she submitted to a deposition in December 2005, after waiting a year to report the alleged assault.

She initially settled the case with a civil suit in 2006, but prosecutors in Montgomery County reopened it in 2015, saying new evidence had come to light.

Ms Constand initially answered questions from assistant district attorney Kristen Feden calmly. But her demeanour changed when the testimony switched to the alleged assault. "I felt really humiliated and I was really confused," she said.

Cosby maintains that he gave Ms Constand the antihistamine Benadryl to relieve stress, insists their sexual relations were consensual and accuses her of lying.

For years Cosby was feted by millions as "America's Dad" for his role as a lovable obstetrician and father on The Cosby Show.

"He was somebody I trusted, a mentor and somewhat of an older figure to me," Ms Constand told the 12-member jury.

Asked by the prosecution why she waited to report the incident, Ms Constand said it was because of his status as a trustee, an alumnus and a benefactor of the university's athletics programmes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2017, with the headline 'Accuser gives emotional testimony in Cosby trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe