Bill Cosby's Sexual Assault Case: Key Moments from His Trial So Far
From 'America's Dad' to Criminal Defendant
On Monday, entertainer Bill Cosby — once known as "America's Dad" — walked into a Norristown, Pennsylvania, courtroom to go on trial for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in January 2004.
Cosby, 79, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He has pleaded not guilty, insisting their sexual contact was consensual, and has denied similar allegations from more than 60 women.
Whether he is convicted or exonerated is uncertain, experts say. It’s also an open question whether he can resume his career.
The sexual allegations against him trace back several years, but they weren't a significant part of his public image before 2014.
Cosby was charged in December 2015. About a year earlier, comedian Hannibal Buress went viral with a joke in October 2014 in which he called Cosby a "rapist."
About nine months after Buress' routine, Cosby’s deposition in the civil suit he settled against Constand in 2006, in which he admitted to giving women he wanted to have sex with Quaaludes, became public.
On Dec. 30, 2015, he was arrested.
Who Is in Court on Each Side?
Cosby's trial has drawn notable attendees, including his former co-stars and some of his accusers.
Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Cosby's daughter Rudy in the Cosby Show, walked by his side into court on Monday. She reportedly said afterward, "This is where the truth happens. ... True family, friendship, integrity is how people show up and support when things aren’t looking so great."
Cosby's screen wife, Phylicia Rashad, is also expected to appear, according to his spokesman. She has commented about her planned presence.
Cosby's wife, Camille, who has stayed supportively at his side, has not attended the trial. But Cosby's spokesman said she will at some point.
Meanwhile, Lili Bernard, a former Cosby Show actress who accused Cosby of sexual assault, has showed up in court in support of Constand. Bernard wore a button saying, “We Stand in Truth.”
Attorney Gloria Allred, who has represented some of his accusers, has also been in attendance.
A Predator or Wrongly Accused?
In the trial's opening statements, prosecutors painted Cosby as a sexual predator while the defense portrayed him as innocent and unjustly accused.
“This case is about a man,” Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden told the jury in her hour-long opening statement.
She continued, “This man, who used his power and his fame and his previously practiced method of placing a young, trusting woman into a trusting state so she couldn’t say ‘no.’ She was incapacitated. She could not consent.”
In his 45-minute opening argument, defense attorney Brian McMonagle called Constand “untruthful,” saying she gave conflicting statements.
“Sexual assault is a terrible crime,” McMonagle told the jury. “It takes away dignity. ... The only thing worse than that is the false accusation of sexual assault.”
An Unnamed Accuser Breaks Her Silence on the Stand
Testimony in Cosby‘s sexual assault trial began with a bang Monday afternoon as prosecutors called to the stand one of only two accusers who were allowed to speak.
Kelly Johnson — previously identified under the pseudonym “Kacey” — described over multiple hours of testimony how Cosby allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her at a bungalow at a hotel in Los Angeles in 1996.
Johnson, Monday’s sole witness, spent three hours on the stand. She was calm and composed as she began testifying how she first met Cosby in the early 1990s, while she was working as an assistant to his agent.
Then she slowly dissolved into tears, shaking, as she alleged that Cosby assaulted her.
When McMonagle, the defense attorney, got his turn in court, he immediately attempted to undercut Johnson for what he said were differences between what she recounted in January 2015, in a press release and news conference, and what she described during a long-ago civil deposition.
Johnson Became 'Depressed' After Alleged Assault, Mom Says
Johnson's mother, Dr. Patrice Sewell, a retired educator, testified after her daughter and described the aftermath of Cosby's alleged assault.
“She changed considerably ... [She became] anxious, depressed, dad,” Sewell said on the stand. She said her husband, a Los Angeles police detective, did not want his daughter to go to the police with her allegations of being drugged.
“Her father didn’t want her to be humiliated and feel shame and embarrassment as he’d said other women go through when they went to the police at that time,” Sewell said as she began crying.
Defense attorneys tried to poke holes in Johnson’s story by suggesting she was distraught over being unhappy working for Cosby’s agent at the time and not over what she said Cosby did to her. They also claimed Jonshon had previously gotten in trouble for socializing with clients, one of whom was the father of her son.
Cosby's Chief Accuser Speaks
An emotional Constand — whose accusations of assault brought Cosby to trial — took the stand Tuesday afternoon and testified that her onetime mentor allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her at his Pennsylvania mansion in January 2004.
Constand, then the director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team, alleged the comedian gave her three pills he said were herbal pills to help her relax before sexually assaulting her when she was incapacitated by the drugs.
“I wanted it to stop,” she said, blinking back tears. “In my head I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, but I was frozen and those messages didn’t get there. And I was very limp. And so I wasn’t able to fight him in any way.”
She alleged that when she confronted him about what happened days later and asked him what he gave her, Cosby was evasive.
“Mr. Cosby looked at me and said, ‘I thought you had an orgasm, didn’t you?’ I said, ‘I did not. I just want to know what you gave me,' ” Constand, 44, testified.
The Defense Pushes Back on Constand
Defense attorney Angela Agrusa did not begin cross-examining Constand until late in the day on Tuesday, but immediately began to try to reduce her credibility. First, she pointed out that Constand called attorneys before she went to police in 2005, and she also focused on alleged inconsistencies in what Constsand told various police authorities.
“I was having to recall a lot of facts,” Constand said. “And it was very very overwhelming.”
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden tried to head off many of those lines of attack by asking Constand about these issues first — like about why she consulted attorneys before going to the police.
“I was really scared,” Constand said. “I wanted guidance and I wanted to protect myself, because I felt that if I went to the police that Mr. Cosby would retaliate and try to hurt me.”
On Wednesday, Agrusa repeatedly asked Constand about why she continued spending time alone with Cosby even after he’d allegedly made previous sexual advances towards her, which she rebuffed.
On Tuesday, Constand said, “I trusted him,” adding, “I wasn’t scared if something became a pass at me or became an advance at me.
Andrea Constand's Mom: I Confronted Cosby
Constand‘s mother confronted Cosby after learning that he had allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her daughter, she testified in court on Wednesday afternoon.
Under questioning by the prosecution, Gianna Constand detailed how she placed a call to Cosby in January 2005 to challenge him about what he was accused of doing to her daughter and to ask what medication he gave Andrea before her alleged assault.
She testified that Cosby — who kept calling her “mom” during their two-plus hour phone conversation, she said — told her in graphic detail about the sexual encounter between him and Andrea, implying it was consensual, with Andrea listening on the phone.
“He said, ‘Oh, Andrea don’t you remember?’ Mom, she even had an orgasm,” Gianna recalled on the stand, making a face.
Agrusa, one of Cosby's attorneys, spent only about 15 minutes cross-examining her. She repeatedly asked to replay a recording of Gianna’s second conversation with Cosby, but the judge refused to allow it.
• With ADAM CARLSON and JEFF TRUESDELL