‘You know what you did,‘ witness tells Cosby at sexual assault trial

Bill Cosby‘s defence team has questioned the motives of a witness who says the comedian drugged her for four days in 1984 and sexually molested her, asking whether she was telling her story in a bid to revive her flagging career in musical theatre.

Bill Cosby returns to the courtroom after lunch recess during the third day of the retrial of his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Photo: AFP

Cosby, 80, once a beloved stand-up comedian and television star known for his family-friendly material, is on trial in a Pennsylvania court on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting another woman, Andrea Constand, in 2004.

Heidi Thomas, an aspiring actress who met Cosby for career coaching, had testified for the prosecution on Tuesday that Cosby gave her wine spiked with an unidentified drug that kept her stupefied for four days. She said she awoke to find him naked and attempting to force himself on her.

Defense lawyer Kathleen Bliss asked Thomas about the attention she received in the press after coming forward with her accusations against Cosby.

“Since you came out you‘ve had a lot of attention, wouldn‘t you agree?” Ms Bliss asked.

“OK, I had a lot of attention,” Ms Thomas replied.

Unlike in the first trial, which ended in a mistrial last year when a deadlocked jury failed to reach a verdict, the judge is allowing up to five other accusers besides Andrea Constand to testify against Cosby. Kathleen Thomas was the first to take the witness stand.

Since the first trial, the #MeToo movement exploded, prompting an increasing number of women to come forward with accusations of harassment or assault from rich and famous men. In a prelude to that culture shift, some 50 women accused Cosby of molestation going back decades. All but Ms Constand‘s case were too old to be prosecuted.

Cosby denies the charge of aggravated indecent assault of Ms Constand, now 45, saying any sexual was consensual, and his lawyers have portrayed Ms Constand as a gold-digging con artist. Cosby paid her $3.4 million in 2006 to settle a civil lawsuit.

Ms Bliss challenged Ms Thomas‘ motives, asking whether she wanted to help Ms Constand.

“I wanted to see a serial rapist convicted,” Ms Thomas responded.

But Ms Thomas did admit she sent Ms Constand a supportive e-mail.

“I just wanted her to know … there was somebody out there who knew she was telling the truth,” Ms Thomas said.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O‘Neill cautioned the jury that it should not consider any evidence of Cosby assaulting Ms Thomas as proof of his guilt regarding Ms Constand, but it could consider it as evidence of a pattern of behaviour.

– Reuters