NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby’s accuser brushed off suggestions they had a romantic relationship before he allegedly drugged and assaulted her, as the comedian’s lawyers labored Wednesday to pick apart her story at his sex-crimes trial.
The defense resumed its cross-examination of Andrea Constand one day after she broke her long public silence about Cosby by testifying that he gave her three blue pills and then violated her with his fingers in 2004 as she lay paralyzed on a couch, unable to tell him to stop, at his suburban Philadelphia home.
Cosby lawyer Angela Agrusa suggested that Constand, a 44-year-old former employee of the basketball program at Temple University, 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, 79, 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 was calm, 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.
Constand was director of basketball operations at Temple, Cosby’s alma mater, while he was a trustee. She said on Tuesday that the calls mostly involved the team and that she felt her continued friendship with Cosby was important to the athletic department.
“She continued to do her job,” Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said outside court Wednesday. “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.