Defense grills accuser at Cosby sex assault trial


Norristown (United States) (AFP)

The main accuser in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial was subject to vigorous cross-examination by the defense Wednesday, exposing inconsistencies in her account surrounding the encounter more than 13 years ago.

Andrea Constand, 44, was grilled by Cosby's team on the third day of the trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania after she was questioned for nearly four hours on Tuesday in her first public account of the alleged assault in January 2004.

The Canadian-born Constand says the pioneering black comedian, whom she considered a mentor, gave her three pills and wine before sexually assaulting her at his Philadelphia mansion after she sought his career advice.

Defense lawyer Angela Agrusa homed in on successive statements that Constand gave to law enforcement in January and February 2005 -- a year after the alleged assaut -- as the 79-year-old disgraced megastar sat in court looking away from his accuser.

"You changed your story," Agrusa said.

Constand originally said the alleged assault took place on March 16, 2004, then switched to January 2004. She also at first failed to disclose other meetings with Cosby, who is a US cultural icon for his role on hit TV series "The Cosby Show."

At two meetings at his Philadelphia home, Cosby twice tried to initiate physical contact with the then director of operations for women's basketball at Temple University, where the TV star was on the board of trustees.

Constand says she brushed Cosby off each time, but his lawyer accused Constand of allowing ambiguity to creep into their relationship.

Referencing dozens of phone calls between Constand and a young woman, often before or after her meetings with Cosby, the defense also suggested that Constand may have been open to manipulation.

- Bath salts for Cosby -

Agrusa also said that just weeks after the alleged assault Constand joined Cosby at a dinner with other guests, and gave him a present on behalf of one of her friends.

"You're coming to the man that assaulted you and you're bringing him bath salts?" she said.

But Constand, today a massage therapist, kept her cool, correcting any statements she thought inaccurate.

"Mr Cosby never disclosed to me that he was interested in a romantic interaction with me," said Constand, dressed in a white jacket and a light blue top. She spoke firmly as she looked directly at each of the 12 jurors.

In the biggest US celebrity trial in years, Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, which each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Around 60 women have publicly accused Cosby of being a serial sexual predator for decades. The accusations ended the comedian's career and left him isolated from friends and fellow celebrities.

Constand's allegations however are the only criminal case against him, as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.