July 20, 2018

Cosby Team Cites Phone Records as It Tries to Discredit Accuser

The defense, though, continued to point to the phone records as evidence that Ms. Constand had kept in touch with Mr. Cosby in the following weeks at a level at odds with her account of having been assaulted. They said Ms. Constand had called Mr. Cosby more than 70 times in the weeks following the encounter, including two calls she made to Mr. Cosby on Valentine’s Day that year.

Ms. Constand, who was director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team at the time, said she was only calling Mr. Cosby on matters of business at the university, where he was a powerful trustee and its best known alumnus. In many cases, she said that she was only returning his calls, perhaps to alert him to a basketball game, and that her contacts were not evidence of any romance.

“I called many people on Valentine’s Day, sir,” she said at one point.

“I called him when he called me,” she added. “I didn’t have a reason to call Mr. Cosby.”

In the afternoon, Ms. Constand’s mother, Gianna Constand, testified that she did call to confront Mr. Cosby after her daughter told her about being assaulted. Even before that conversation, Ms. Constand said she had noticed her daughter’s distressed state, including twitching and screaming at night, and thought she was both depressed and withdrawn.

“My daughter was not the same person when she came home from Toronto,” Ms. Constand said. “She was not the same person as when she left.”

In their phone call in 2005, Mrs. Constand said Mr. Cosby provided a graphic, detailed account of touching her daughter sexually. “He did say to me, ‘Don’t worry mum —there was no penile penetration,’” Mrs. Constand testified.

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Mr. Cosby, right, arriving at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Credit Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Kathleen Bliss, a lawyer for Mr. Cosby, suggested that Ms. Constand’s mother had herself benefitted from the financial settlement.

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“This isn’t about money, Ms. Bliss,” Gianna Constand responded.

Defense lawyers had similarly attacked Ms. Constand’s credibility last June when the first trial on these charges against Mr. Cosby ended in a mistrial after jurors became deadlocked. Mr. Cosby’s new crop of lawyers has been aggressive in portraying Ms. Constand as a desperate “con artist” who schemed to get one over on a rich but lonely man because she needed money.

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The defense, for example, has accused her of running a pyramid scheme over six months during her time at Temple, suggesting she sent emails to solicit money as part of a scam. But Ms. Constand testified she had only sent one email, soliciting $65., She said she simply cut and pasted language crafted by someone else into the email that she herself had little understanding of.

“I was just helping a friend,” she said.

Prosecutors said it could not have been a pyramid scheme because the solicitation invited people to buy products like software.

Ms. Constand, 45, sued Mr. Cosby in 2005 after prosecutors initially declined to take on her case. She later received a settlement of $3.38 million. She has said that Mr. Cosby, now 80, took advantage of his position as her mentor to bring her to his home where he gave her three pills that incapacitated her.

Five other women testified last week that they, too, believe Mr. Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them.

To support the argument that Ms. Constand’s account is a fabrication, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers plan to bring forward an academic adviser at Temple who said she had roomed with her during university basketball trips. The adviser, Marguerite Jackson, has said Ms. Constand told her before the incident with Mr. Cosby that she could fabricate a claim of sexual assault about a celebrity to get money.

Ms. Jackson was barred from testifying at the first trial after Ms. Constand told the court she did not know her. But the defense has brought forward two former Temple colleagues who say Ms. Constand and Ms. Jackson actually did know one another.

But Ms. Constand denied that again in testimony on Monday. Ms. Jackson’s name sounded familiar, she said, but she said she had never spoken to her and had never roomed with anyone on basketball trips.

Asked directly whether she had formulated a plan to frame Mr. Cosby, Ms. Constand said, “No, sir.”

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In its questioning, the defense has sought to emphasize discrepancies in the accounts Ms. Constand gave to police in Pennsylvania and in Canada, where she had moved after leaving Temple. Prosecutors have said she has been consistent for most of her accounts, such as what happened during the assault.

On Monday, the defense focused on a visit Ms. Constand made to a Connecticut casino resort, where Mr. Cosby was appearing, in 2003, just a few months before she said the encounter with Mr. Cosby occurred. During the visit, Ms. Constand dined with Mr. Cosby and another man in Mr. Cosby’s room and spent some time alone in his room with Mr. Cosby.

“Did you think it was appropriate to be in a married man’s room in a hotel at that time of night?” Mr. Mesereau asked. Ms. Constand said she had made the trip at Mr. Cosby’s request, and had gone to his room after he invited her back for some baked goods.

Correction: April 16, 2018

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of a witness in the sexual assault retrial of Bill Cosby. She is Gianna Constand, not Gianni.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/arts/television/bill-cosby-andrea-constand-sexual-assault-trial.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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