On the stand, Cosby’s main accuser said she came to court ‘for justice’

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Andrea Constand, center, walks into a courtroom for Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Friday, April 13, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. Constand, Bill Cosby's chief accuser, will take the witness stand on Friday.

Andrea Constand, center, walks into a courtroom for Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Friday, April 13, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. Constand, Bill Cosby's chief accuser, will take the witness stand on Friday. (AP Photo/Corey Perrine, Pool)

Andrea Constand remembers thinking it was “absurd” for Bill Cosby, her friend and mentor, to have a romantic interest in her.

“Given that Mr. Cosby was just a little bit younger than my grandfather,” she continued. “He was a married man.”

The 45-year-old massage therapist and complainant in Cosby’s criminal sexual assault retrial took the stand Friday morning, after the prosecution had warmed up jurors with three days of testimony from other women who say Cosby drugged and assaulted them as well.

“Miss Constand why are you here?” asked prosecutor Kristen Feden.

“For justice,” said Constand.

Six feet tall, wiry and with a mass of curly hair, Constand spoke stiffly at first but warmed considerably when asked about her interests, in fields like natural medicine and homeopathy.

In the early 2000s, she testified, she transitioned from playing pro basketball in Europe to handling operations for Temple’s women’s basketball team.

After meeting her at a game at the Liacouras Centers, she testified Cosby had reached out to her at work to talk about facilities for the team. Over a span of about 18 months, he invited her to dinners and shows, and gave her career advice.

On two occasions, she said he also touched her in ways that indicated he was interested in her romantically, once trying to unbutton her pants.

“I leaned forward and made a gesture like I’m not here for that,” she said. “I absolutely never showed interest whatsoever … but I wasn’t threatened and I didn’t judge him.”

One night in January 2004, she testified she had resolved to quit her job at Temple to pursue massage therapy.  She said Cosby invited her to his house in Cheltenham to talk through how she would break the news to her boss.

They sat around his kitchen table, and he offered her wine. At one point, she said, he went upstairs and came back with three small, round, blue pills, telling her, “Put ‘em down. They’ll help you relax, they’ll take the edge off.”

A few minutes later, Constand said she became “woozy” and “weak,” and Cosby led her to a couch in another room, laying her on her side. The next thing she remembers is coming to, feeling Cosby behind her, and his fingers inside her vagina.

“I felt his fingers going in and out, very forcefully,” she testified.

After a failed attempt to confront the entertainer a couple of months later, Constand said she moved back to Ontario, where she grew up. It took her a year to tell her mother what happened. They decided to call the police.

“I didn’t want it to happen to anybody else, what had happened to me,” she said of her thinking at the time. “And I was scared.”

During her statements, Cosby hunched over at the end of the defense table. He avoided her eyes when the prosecution asked her to point out the perpetrator in the courtroom.

On cross examination, defense attorney Tom Mesereau questioned Constand repeatedly about her statements to police, picking out inconsistencies or notable omissions.

Constand agreed that, at one point, she did confuse two dates — the date of the alleged assault and the date she said she tried to confront Cosby.

“I was mistaken about the night of the Chinese dinner and the night of the actual assault,” she said. “I was just trying to recall an enormous amount of information, and I was very nervous and I was just trying to piece it together.”

Mesereau also started plumbing Constand’s financial history, looking for signs that she needed money. Prosecutors revealed last week that Constand received nearly $3.4 million in a 2006 civil settlement with Cosby.

In opening statements, the attorney made a frame for this information, saying Constand is a “con man” who cooked up a plan to extort Cosby for money. Mesereau argued that Cosby was lonely, and he confided in her that he never got over the murder of his son, Ennis.

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