Andrea Constand Testifies In Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Andrea Constand is the former Temple University employee who claims that Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2004. Today she took the stand in his sexual assault trial and told her story to a Pennsylvania jury. A quick warning here that we will be hearing some explicit details. Laura Benshoff of member station WHYY was in the courtroom and she's with us now. Hi there, Laura.
LAURA BENSHOFF, BYLINE: Hi, Kelly.
MCEVERS: What did Andrea Constand tell the court about how her relationship with Bill Cosby started?
BENSHOFF: She started from the beginning. You know, Cosby in the - or sorry, Andrea Constand in the early 2000s worked for a women's basketball program at Temple University in Philadelphia. And she described meeting Cosby for the very first time at a basketball game. He inquired about some facilities, the rugs and lockers in a women's locker room, so she showed him around. And after that, she would sometimes take calls from him because he took an interest in a lot of the things at that school and would ask about the team's schedule and the coach. And those calls in her telling ended up turning friendly.
It was a mentoring relationship. He would sometimes invite her to dinners at his house either alone or with others. And then she said at some points it did take a turn. She described one incident where he tried to unzip her pants prior to the alleged assault, but she says she rejected the pass and said to him, in her words, I'm not here for that. I don't want that. But what she described was a very trusting and friendly relationship. He offered her career advice. And she said she did not feel in any way threatened by him.
MCEVERS: So all this was happening before the night of the alleged assault. What did she say about that night?
BENSHOFF: That night, she said she was going through something. She had some angst. She was feeling, quote, unquote, "torn" about telling her boss at the time that she planned to leave the university and go back to school to learn how to be a massage therapist. And after they talked about that for a little while at Cosby's residence outside of Philadelphia, she says he went upstairs and returned with some pills. He said they would help her relax. And she asked, are they herbal? He nodded his head. And she said she trusted him and swallowed them.
She said about a half an hour later she started to feel off. Her legs felt weak and her words were slurring. And she said she was really concerned. She thought she was having some kind of bad reaction to what she'd taken. After that, she says Mr. Cosby helped her to the couch. And the next thing she remembers is him behind her on the couch touching her breasts and inside her vagina and just being unable to move.
MCEVERS: You've covered these allegations for some time and you're familiar with her story. What struck you about her testimony today?
BENSHOFF: Well, this is just the big story of the trial. Cosby has said in recent media interviews that he doesn't plan to testify on his own behalf, so Constand is the closest person to the alleged event to testify. And she just added a lot more detail. And hearing it right from the person herself felt very new, even as somebody who's been covering it for a year and a half.
MCEVERS: Very quickly, how did her - Cosby's defense team react to her testimony?
BENSHOFF: Well, the events of the night aren't really debatable. Cosby testified in a civil deposition that he did give her pills and there was sexual contact. But the defense focuses heavily on what happened before and after that night. They say it was consensual, romantic. And they like to poke holes in what they say are inconsistencies in her story.
MCEVERS: Laura Benshoff of member station WHYY. Thank you so much.
BENSHOFF: Thanks, Kelly.
(SOUNDBITE OF CARIBOU SONG, "HANNIBAL")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.