Cosby Trial Briefing: At Bill Cosby Trial, Andrea Constand Battles His Lawyers

Cosby Trial Briefing: At Bill Cosby Trial, Andrea Constand Battles His Lawyers

- in World Biz
10
0

Before testifying this week, Ms. Constand had never before spoken publicly about the night in early 2004 when she says Mr. Cosby drugged and abused her, but every detail of their relationship has been scoured since Tuesday by Mr. Cosby’s lawyers, who seized on any hint of inconsistency. She admitted some mistakes in dates and details, and acknowledged maintaining considerable contact with Mr. Cosby after the night she says she was assaulted, but she calmly and confidently tried to explain away some discrepancies, while dismissing others as innocent errors.

“Ma’am, I was mistaken,” Ms. Constand replied to questioning by a defense lawyer, Angela C. Agrusa, who asked why, when she first went to the police, a year after the incident, she had told them she had first met Mr. Cosby in 2003. It was actually 2002.

She also acknowledged giving police the wrong date for the alleged assault at his home in a suburb of Philadelphia, instead giving the date of another encounter with Mr. Cosby several weeks later. Ms. Agrusa asked, incredulously, “It went from the day, the night that you were drugged and assaulted to something else?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Ms. Constand said. “I said I was mistaken.”

Angela C. Agrusa, a lawyer for Bill Cosby.

Credit
Dominick Reuter/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

It remains to be seen whether the jury will embrace the account she gave.

But it is clear that for dozens of women who say Mr. Cosby attacked them too, Ms. Constand’s testimony has been an empowering moment, and a possible pathway to his conviction and what they consider justice.

“They are trying to poke holes in her timeline and discredit her,” said Victoria Valentino, who says Mr. Cosby assaulted her in 1970, and is attending the trial, “and she is being very prudent and authentic in her responses. It comes across very clearly that she is telling the truth.”

Ms. Constand, 43, spent nearly nine hours on the witness stand over two days — including four hours Wednesday — as Ms. Agrusa accused her of fabricating the assault and some details of her interaction with Mr. Cosby. But in contrast to Tuesday, when Ms. Constand cried as she recounted the incident, she remained dry-eyed and outwardly calm Wednesday, answering questions matter-of-factly.

Bill Cosby, arriving at the courthouse Wednesday with the actress Sheila Frazier, left, and her husband, John Atchison, right.

Credit
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Ms. Constand has become a sort of proxy for other women who have accused Mr. Cosby of assault.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill has admonished the jurors to ignore anything they have heard outside the courtroom, but to the wider world, Ms. Constand walked to the stand as a sort of proxy for the dozens of women who have stepped forward to accuse Mr. Cosby of drugging and assaulting them. None of the other allegations has led to prosecution — in many cases, too much time has passed — and it may be that none will.

A former star basketball player who grew up in Toronto, Ms. Constand worked for Temple University when she met Mr. Cosby, a Temple alumnus and trustee. Shortly after the incident at the heart of the case, in January or February 2004, she quit her job and moved back to Canada; the following year, she went to the police and sued Mr. Cosby, later reaching an undisclosed settlement.

The complainant Andrea Constand in Toronto in 2015.

Credit
Marta Iwanek/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

She faced Mr. Cosby this week, for the first time in 12 years, as a different person.

Now a massage therapist who practices yoga, she took breaks during the trial when she appeared to be meditating.

Ms. Agrusa suggested there was more than Ms. Constand let on to in her relationship with Mr. Cosby, 36 years her senior, who bought her gifts and introduced her to some of his entertainment industry contacts.

“Mr. Cosby had already made clear that he had affection for you,” Ms. Agrusa said.

“He had never disclosed to me that he had affection for me,” Ms. Constand replied levelly.

She has said that before the alleged assault, he twice made sexual advances that she rebuffed, but she continued to see him.

“You came back to Mr. Cosby’s home,” Ms. Agrusa said, and drove to Foxwoods resort in eastern Connecticut, where he was performing, and spent time in his hotel room there.

Ms. Constand said she sat on the bed in that hotel room, but after he lay down on the bed, she thought, “What am I doing here?” and left.

When asked why she did not tell police certain details of their meetings, she replied, “I was never asked.”

The defense pointed to extensive contacts Ms. Constand had with Mr. Cosby after the alleged assault, which contradict what she told police in 2005, and which the lawyers have suggested is not the behavior of a victim toward her abuser. They paid particular attention to phone records showing that Ms. Constand called Mr. Cosby repeatedly around the time of the alleged incident, including on Valentine’s Day, and dozens of times in the months after.

But Ms. Constand said those calls were for her work “regarding Temple women’s basketball,” and many of them, she said, were her calling him back after he had left her a message; Kristen M. Feden, an assistant district attorney, cited a pattern in the phone records of Ms. Constand calling her own voice mail to check messages, and then calling Mr. Cosby.

Some experts say Ms. Constand’s delayed report of the incident was not unusual in cases of sexual assault.

“Delayed and partial reports of sexual assaults are normal, common and should be expected, particularly in cases of non-stranger sexual assault,” said Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, who is attending the trial. “Victims are often in a state of disbelief and trying to make sense of how a person they know and trust could betray and hurt them in such a personal way.”

The courthouse in Norristown, Pa., where Mr. Cosby’s sexual assault trial is taking place.

Credit
Andrew Renneisen for The New York Times

The witness after Ms. Constand was her mother, Gianna.

She held a hand over her face and cried, as she described Mr. Cosby’s “betrayal.” She spoke of him as a man who was her daughter’s mentor, a man older than Andrea’s own father. Mr. Cosby, she said, drugged and assaulted Andrea, leaving her with nightmares that made her scream. “I could hear her,” she said.

Mrs. Constand called Mr. Cosby in January 2005 after her daughter described what she said had happened. He apologized, she said, and tried to defend it as consensual. “He said to me, ‘Mom, she even had an orgasm.’”

She later taped a second phone call with Mr. Cosby, she said, at her son-in-law’s suggestion, and he offered to pay for Ms. Constand’s schooling. The jurors heard the tape. “Would she feel comfortable going back to, applying to graduate school of her choice?” Mr. Cosby said to Mrs. Constand, in the recording played for the court.

At one point he asked about a beep he heard on the line. “I have a parrot,” Mrs. Constand told him.

Mr. Cosby, 79, whose wife, Camille, has not attended the trial, was accompanied on Wednesday by Mary Frances Berry, a former chairwoman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, who described him as a longtime friend.

She told reporters that she was not surprised that few members of the public had turned out to support Mr. Cosby, noting that many people remembered him not only as an amiable, even reassuring comedian and television star, but also as a scold who told black Americans to take more responsibility for their lives.

In black communities, she said, “There are some people who are still irritated by that.”

Continue reading the main story

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

Living In: Downtown Yonkers: A Cleaner, Greener Place to Call Home

And now another, smaller river — the Saw