Bill Cosby‘s chief accuser on Wednesday (June 7) denied they had a romantic relationship before he allegedly drugged and assaulted her at his suburban Philadelphia home. The defense resumed its cross-examination of Andrea Constand one day after she broke her long public silence about Cosby by testifying that the comedian gave her three blue pills and then violated her with his fingers in 2004 as she lay paralyzed, unable to tell him to stop.
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 also spent a painstaking hour going over Constand’s phone records, hoping to show she changed her mind about the date she says Cosby assaulted her. Cosby arrived at the courthouse Wednesday accompanied by actress Sheila Frazier, who starred with him in the 1978 comedy California Suite. Frazier was accompanied by her husband, John Atchison, a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Cosby and his wife, Camille.
Cosby, 79, is charged with aggravated indecent assault. The comedian once dubbed “America’s Dad” could get 10 years in prison if convicted. Constand managed the women’s basketball team at Temple, Cosby’s alma mater, while he was a high-profile trustee. She said Tuesday that she felt her continued friendship with Cosby after the alleged assault was important to the school’s athletic department.
His lawyers have tried to poke holes in Constand’s story, citing differences between her courtroom testimony and the accounts she gave to police and in a lawsuit in 2005. The defense has argued the two had a romantic relationship, that Constand wasn’t incapacitated and that the sexual encounter was consensual.
The defense has pointed out that phone records show Constand called Cosby 53 times after she says he assaulted her. Constand told the jury the calls mostly involved the women’s basketball team, especially around tournament time.
Before Tuesday, Constand had never spoken about Cosby in public, barred from doing so under the terms of a confidential settlement they reached in 2006. Her deposition from that lawsuit remains sealed. 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.