Bill Cosby’s chief accuser at his sexual-assault trial on Monday denied framing him and said she doesn’t know a key witness who plans to testify she spoke of levelling false accusations against a celebrity.
Canadian Andrea Constand told jurors she doesn’t “recall ever having a conversation with” Marguerite Jackson. Both women worked at Temple University around the time Ms. Constand says Mr. Cosby drugged and molested her at the comedian’s suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
The defence plans to call Ms. Jackson as a witness and says she will testify that before Ms. Constand lodged her allegations against Mr. Cosby in 2005, Ms. Constand had mused to her about setting up a “high-profile person” and filing suit. Ms. Jackson has said that she and Ms. Constand worked closely together, had been friends and had shared hotel rooms several times.
A judge blocked Ms. Jackson from testifying at last year’s trial, which ended in a hung jury, after Ms. Constand took the stand and denied knowing her. At the time, Justice Steven O’Neill ruled Ms. Jackson’s testimony would be hearsay. Since then, prosecutors have told Mr. Cosby’s lawyers that Ms. Constand had modified her statement to acknowledge she “recalls a Margo.”
The judge has ruled that Ms. Jackson can take the stand at the retrial, but indicated he could revisit the issue after Ms.Constand was finished testifying.
Ms. Jackson’s availability as a witness for Mr. Cosby could be crucial to a defence plan to attack Ms. Constand’s credibility and get jurors to believe she set Mr. Cosby up.
Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau, who has called Ms. Constand a “con artist” who framed Mr. Cosby and then collected a US$3.4-million settlement, asked her about Ms. Jackson during cross-examination on Monday. She again denied knowing her.
The defence lawyer then asked, “Did you ever fabricate a scheme to falsely accuse him for money?”
“No, sir,” Ms. Constand replied.
Ms. Constand, a 45-year-old Toronto native, left the witness stand on Monday after testifying for seven hours over two days.
She told jurors last week that Mr. Cosby knocked her out with pills and then sexually assaulted her. Mr. Cosby, 80, says Ms. Constand consented to a sexual encounter.
Ms. Constand’s mother followed her on the witness stand and bolstered her account, testifying about a phone conversation she said she had with the comedian about a year after the alleged assault in which he described in graphic detail their sexual account and then apologized.
Gianna Constand told jurors that she was concerned because her daughter hadn’t been the same since leaving Temple in March, 2004, and moving back to Canada, screaming in her sleep and waking up in a sweat.
She said she was “very combative” with Mr. Cosby, demanding he tell her the medication he’d given her daughter and what he’d done to her.
Gianna Constand said Mr. Cosby told her he’d given Andrea Constand a prescription drug – not the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl as he has claimed – but didn’t provide the name. She said he described how he’d touched Andrea Constand’s breasts and vagina and guided her hand to his penis.
“He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Mom, there was no penile penetration,“’ Gianna Constand testified.
If convicted, Mr. Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of three charges of aggravated indecent assault.
On Monday, the defence tried to cast Ms. Constand as an opportunist who baited Mr. Cosby by feigning romantic interest in him. The defence said she spent late nights at the comedian’s home, drove four hours to see him at a casino and called him twice on Valentine’s Day, about a month after the alleged assault.
Ms. Constand has testified that she saw the former TV star as a mentor and had previously rejected his advances. And she said her phone calls to Mr. Cosby were about basketball and had nothing to do with romance.
Phone records show Ms. Constand, the former director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University, made brief calls to Mr. Cosby around the time of a Temple home game on Feb. 14, 2004, the month after the alleged assault.
“You think you called Mr. Cosby to talk about basketball?” Mr. Mesereau asked her.
Ms. Constand testified that she felt a duty to answer Mr. Cosby’s inquiries because he was a powerful alumnus and trustee.
Picking up where he left off on Friday, Mr. Mesereau questioned Ms. Constand about inconsistencies in her police statements and prior testimony.
Mr. Mesereau said Ms. Constand told police in 2005 that she called Mr. Cosby from her university-issued cellphone just before she arrived at his house on the night of the alleged assault to ensure the gate would be open. But Ms. Constand’s phone records show she did not make any calls to Mr. Cosby’s mansion that month.
Ms. Constand explained that she may have been mistaken, that there were times Mr. Cosby told her in advance that the gate would be open and that she often reached him at another number.
Prosecutors have called to the stand five other women who said Mr. Cosby drugged and assaulted them, too. The defence has called the other accusers irrelevant to the case.
If convicted, Mr. Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of three charges of aggravated. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.
The Associated Press