Bill Cosby lawyer scours accuser’s words, looking for doubt

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby’s chief accuser was headed back to the witness stand on Monday for a second day of testimony in the comedian’s sexual assault retrial after enduring cross-examination by his attorney last week.

Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau was expected to continue questioning Andrea Constand about discrepancies between what she’s said in the past about Cosby and what she said on the witness as the defence seeks to undermine her credibility and sow doubt in the jury.

Mesereau opened the retrial with a blistering attack on Constand, telling jurors that evidence would show she’s nothing more than a con artist who framed the comedian and cashed in with a $3.4 million civil settlement.

Now with Constand on the witness stand and facing more defence questions on Monday, Mesereau is scouring a binder full of her police statements and prior testimony — and he’s finding some inconsistencies .

Cosby arrived at the rain-soaked suburban Philadelphia courthouse on Monday morning wearing a black raincoat and walking under a large, black umbrella held by his spokesman.

Mesereau hasn’t set off many fireworks yet, but in more than two hours of cross examination on Friday the veteran trial lawyer had Constand flustered with questions about whether she’d ever said she was affectionate toward Cosby, and a line of attack centred on her involvement in a Ponzi scheme.

In her testimony on Friday, Constand denied ever having intimate contact with Cosby prior to the night in January 2004 that she said he drugged and molested her, but Mesereau showed her a 2005 deposition in which she testified that she told her mother she’d occasionally been affectionate toward him.

Constand, who’s from the Toronto area, told Mesereau she was just being nice when she hugged Cosby or kissed him on the cheek, because she was grateful for his friendship and mentorship.

But Mesereau, who’s best known for winning Michael Jackson an acquittal in his 2005 child molestation case, was incredulous as Constand denied being aware that Cosby was sexually attracted to her — even after he touched her thigh on one occasion and tried unbuttoning her pants on another.

Constand was more confident and composed as she told jurors about the night in question.

She testified that Cosby offered her pills and a sip of wine after she said she was “stressed” about telling the coach of her plans to leave to study massage therapy in her native Canada. She said she awoke to find the actor known as “America’s Dad” penetrating her with his fingers, touching her breast and putting her hand on his penis.

Mesereau clawed back, making clear to jurors that Constand’s answers have varied on the date of the alleged assault, how often she dined out with Cosby, whether she made a point of wearing a cashmere sweater he gave to her and where she wound up when she visited his room at a Connecticut casino.

Constand was the director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University in Philadelphia when she met Cosby, a powerful alumnus and member of the board of trustees.

Mesereau was trying to portray Constand to jurors as the aggressor, suggesting she pursued Cosby for a romantic relationship and preyed on the loneliness he felt after the 1997 killing of his son, Ennis, even though such activity may have been barred by her employment.

Constand said she didn’t remember taking a required sexual assault and harassment training seminar when she started working at Temple, or another one on avoiding conflicts of interest, such as fraternizing with board trustees.

Mesereau showed documents Constand signed confirming she participation in the classes.

Asked if she was taught to promptly report sexual assault allegations, Constand replied: “I can’t speak to what was in the curriculum.”

Constand also struggled to explain why she had sent emails soliciting funds for a purported Ponzi scheme while at Temple, claiming she didn’t know much about the company and had only cut and pasted promises of big returns for a risk-free $65 investment to help a friend.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

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Follow Mike Sisak at www.twitter.com/mikesisak.

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For more coverage visit www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial.

Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press

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