‘Madly in love with fame and money’
BILL Cosby's high-profile Hollywood lawyer today painted the woman who alleges the TV star drugged and sexually assaulted her as a "con artist" who was "madly in love with fame and money".
Andrea Constand, 44, had struggled with money for years, claimed Tom Mesereau - who helped acquit Michael Jackson of child molestation charges. She saw The Cosby Show star as her ticket to a better life, said the lawyer at a Philadelphia court today.
Ms Constand alleges the comedian gave her pills that made her woozy when she was at his house in outer Philadelphia, and then penetrated her with his fingers while she was semi-conscious and unable to consent.
She was paid a massive $4.4 million in a civil settlement by the actor in 2006, a fact that was kept out of the first trial, but could be crucial to this one. Ms Cosby says the payment was not an admission of guilt, but an attempt to avoid further inconvenience and expense.
"Andrea Constand was 30 years old, Mr Cosby was in his mid 60s," Mr Mesereau told the court. "She was not attracted to him, she said so in interviews, but she was madly in love with his fame and money."
The pair met at the TV star's alma mater, Temple University, where Ms Constand was director of operations for the women's basketball team.
Mr Mesereau, a distinctive figure with flowing white hair, said the defence would call a witness who worked with Ms Constand, who claims Mr Cosby's accuser told her: "I can say I was assaulted, I can set up a club, I can get a lot of money for my business."
Marguerite Johnson's testimony was not permitted in the first trial, which ended in a hung jury, after Ms Constand said she did not know the woman. Mr Cosby's lawyer said they roomed together six times on basketball trips.
Ms Johnson will tell the court "she had a bad feeling" and "there was something wrong with Ms Constand's demeanour" when the alleged victim told her she had been assaulted by a powerful person.
Mr Mesereau also said Ms Constand had taken two courses on sexual assault at Temple.
"She was very sophisticated in this area - she knew what she was doing and, ladies and gentlemen, she pulled it off," said the lawyer.
He said her account of her relationship with Mr Cosby and the assault had changed over the course of her three police interviews to fit the civil suit.
"She was very fuzzy on the facts," said Mr Mesereau.
He sketched an image of a woman who had "a history of financial problems until she hits the jackpot with Bill Cosby."
He said she had "stiffed" roommates on bills and credit cards after college, complained about money and ran a pyramid scheme at the university.
Mr Cosby later introduced Ms Constand to a Cosby Show producer, his agent and a film producer, because she hoped to become a broadcaster at the Olympics, said Mr Mesereau. "She stated that nothing had come out of her relationship with him. And she didn't like it."
The lawyer said Ms Constand drove to Mr Cosby's home six or seven times, drank brandy and wine with him and brought him incense. He had touched her waist and inner thigh and given her perfume.
"Did she tell him not to touch her?" asked the lawyer. "No, she wanted him to ... this was a big score for her."
He said Ms Constand had described an occasion where she drove to his hotel four or five hours away in Connecticut and sat on his hotel room bed, and one in which he had unbuttoned her pants and tried to touch her.
Mr Mesereau said Ms Constand did not report the alleged assault for a year and had destroyed the evidence and moved back to Canada. She then continued to contact Mr Cosby, calling him more than 40 times, and meeting him with her family at a show in Canada, bringing him gifts, he added.
"If this happens and you don't want it why do you keep going back and back and back? Because you want something. She's now a multi-millionaire because she pulled it off."
Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist with 18 years experience in examining sex offenders and victims, told the court that sexual assault was "one of the most misunderstood crimes."
Dr Ziv said 85 per cent of perpetrators were known to the victim and that people did not tend to behave as expected after an assault.
She said "delayed reporting is the norm, not the exception" and that we tend to hold victims accountable and "blame victims for not being the kind of victim we think they should be."
Dr Ziv told the court: "Adult women in general often take responsibility for things that happen to them and feel a sense of blame.
"This is especially true given the fact most women are sexually assaulted by someone they know.
"They very often don't have anyone to talk to."
She said if an intoxicant is involved, they are even less likely to report because of their patchy memory. The psychiatrist explained that victims are more likely to continue contact with someone who has sexually assaulted them than not, often seeking an explanation that is less psychologically painful.
She said victims also often fear they will be blamed if they report an incident, or that the narrative may be reframed by police and their life come under the spotlight. Their answers to questions frequently change over time, either because of the ways the questions were framed or because of their fears about damage to their reputation, job or relationships.
Mr Cosby faces three charges of aggravated indecent assault, each of which can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, which would effectively be a death sentence for the 80-year-old.
He denies all the charges.
The first trial last year ended with a hung jury. The retrial is expected to last a month.