Andrea Constand says she was returning Bill Cosby‘s phone calls in March 2004 when she called the entertainer 53 times after he allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her in January of that year, she testified Wednesday.
“I was either returning a phone call or picking up a voicemail and returning a phone call,” Constand said, responding to a point raised by Cosby’s defense lawyers.
The phone calls lasted less than a minute and involved leaving a message for him, records show.
“I can’t sit here today and remember a time I got him on the phone, though it may have been possible,” Constand, 44, testified.
At the time, Constand was director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia and Cosby was on the school’s Board of Trustees, so she felt compelled to call him back, she testified.
“He was calling about Temple matters,” she testified earlier in the trial. “I did not want to not call Mr. Cosby back if he was calling about business purposes because I thought it would look negative on me.”
Constand wrapped up her testimony at 3 p.m. Wednesday after hours of being aggressively questioned about the calls — as well as other matters —by Cosby defense attorney Angela Agrusa during her second day on the witness stand.
Asked about the grilling by the defense after Constand concluded her testimony, Dolores Troiani, one of her attorneys replied sarcastically: “When Mr. Cosby makes a pass at a woman, she only has one choice. She has to quit her job and become a nun.”
She was able to explain her side more fully under redirect by Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feld. The phone records show there were no more phone calls between them after Constand left her job at Temple on March 31, 2004, Feld said, and Constand confirmed.
Cosby, 79, is on trial for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004.
Cosby has pleaded not guilty to the charges, insisting their sexual contact was consensual, and has denied similar allegations from more than 60 women. Constand, who is gay, says it was not.
Agrusa struggled during her questioning of Constand, often getting dates, locations and details of Constand’s statements to police wrong. This gave Feld ample opportunity to correct the record under redirect.
At times, Agrusa framed her questions as statements rather than questions, compelling Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill to interject and remind the jury that an attorney’s questions to a witness are not evidence, and only the answers are.
Defense attorneys are trying to poke holes in Constand’s credibility by questioning various aspects of her relationship with him, including why she went to the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut with him after she’d twice rebuffed sexual advances from him at his home.
“He had never disclosed to me that he had affection for me…that he was interested in a romantic interaction with me,” Constand said.
Agrusa also asked Constand about accepting a $225 blowdryer from Cosby and changing her hairstyle. Constand said she did so because Cosby, a mentor to her, was encouraging her to pursue a career in sports broadcasting and said she should get a professional head shot taken.
“He asked me whether I had ever straightened my hair before,” said Constand, who has curly brown hair. “This was for my head shots and having a different look for head shots. I said, ‘I haven’t had my hair straightened since I was a child.’ Shortly after that conversation I did decide to cut my hair shorter from a longer style I had.”
Constand also admitted she initially gave Canadian and Pennsylvania detectives the wrong date for when the alleged sexual assault occurred, saying it occurred in March and not January.
“I was just confused,” Constand said. “I was mistaken.”
Constand an ‘An Impressive Witness’: Former Prosecutor
Dennis McAndrews, a former Pennsylvania prosecutor who witnessed Constand’s testimony, tells PEOPLE, “Overall, I think she was an impressive witness, a believable witness and overall was sufficient for conviction unless jurors get hung up on inconsistencies about times and some collateral circumstances.”
McAndrews added, “I thought the phone calls were significant and did impugn her credibility, but the prosecution was able to defuse most of that impact by showing they were primarily work-related and returned phone calls from ones initiated by Cosby.”
Constand’s mother took the stand after Contand. She was testifying as of Wednesday afternoon.