NORRISTOWN — All eyes were on Andrea Constand on the witness stand today, the former Temple University basketball administrator whose call to police set off the criminal charges for which Bill Cosby is on trial.
For the first time during this criminal trial, Constand testified publicly, telling jurors that in January 2004, Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his home just outside Philadelphia city limits. Her testimony was cut off part of the way through cross-examination today and will pick up again Wednesday morning.
Here are the big takeaways from today in court:
Constand is an effective witness
There were some questions yesterday as to why prosecutors decided to first call Kelly Johnson, another one of Cosby’s alleged victims, before they called Constand. Maybe it has something to do with Constand’s calm and cool demeanor on the stand.
While former Temple University employee became teary-eyed on two or three occasions as she was describing the incident in question, she remained calm for the majority of her hours-long testimony. She began testifying under direct examination around 2 p.m., and when she was called by prosecutors, she sat up straight on the witness stand, smiled a bit and continuously made eye contact with the jury.
At one point, after she said she didn’t recall having a phone call of which a recording exists, she asked the attorneys if she could correct the statement “for the record.” Kind of a pro move.
Cross-examination began around 4 p.m. and she continued testifying through 5:30 p.m., remaining calm through most of what was — at times — grueling questioning by California-based attorney Angela Agrusa. While Agrusa attempted to poke holes in her testimony, Constand on several occasions pushed back saying either “I can’t answer that” or “what’s your question?”
Cosby fidgeted when Constand spoke of the night in question
The comedian’s demeanor noticeably changed when Constand was testifying about the night at the center of the case. For most of the day, Cosby seemed intent but composed, sometimes leaning calmly back in his chair. Something changed when Constand described what happened during the alleged assault.
As she described feeling woozy after ingesting three pills he offered her, Cosby sat up in his chair. When she told jurors about how he’d placed her on a couch and then allegedly groped and digitally penetrated her, Cosby put his head in his hands and appeared to shake his head “no.”’
Other alleged victims have a presence in the courtroom
At least three women who have also accused Cosby of sexual assault were present in the courtroom today, sitting on the left side near attorney Gloria Allred, a nationally-recognized attorney representing about 30 women who have accused Cosby of assault. Among the women in the courtroom was Victoria Valentino, an alleged victim who was wearing a pin that read “We Stand In Truth.” Their testimony is not expected.
Despite two long days, the jury still seems engaged
It’s a bit hard to see the faces of every juror as there’s a large projection screen placed in the middle of the courtroom. But the jurors who were visible seemed quite engaged, even toward the end of the day Tuesday following two long days of testimony.
Some members of the Allegheny County jury made up of seven men and five women intently took notes, and most switched their gaze between witnesses and attorneys, especially during Constand’s pivotal testimony.
The tech in the Montco courthouse ain’t great
Either recordings of phone calls between Constand representatives of Cosby after the alleged assault were poorly recorded (possible!) or the audio in the Montgomery County courthouse is terrible (also possible!).
While she was directly examining Constand, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden introduced two audio recordings as pieces of evidence. Both were between Constand and representatives of Cosby who were calling her after the incident.
And the audio was just terrible — it was as if the sound a fuzzy TV makes had overtaken the system and was blaring through the courtroom. Only small portions of their conversations were discernable. This has little bearing on the jury, which was able to read transcripts of the calls. But it made the rest of us cringe a little.
The next steps
The trial, which was expected to last two weeks, continues Wednesday with the end of Constand’s cross-examination by Cosby’s defense. Also in the works: Testimony from a toxicologist, and more recordings — this time, from Cosby himself, as he testified during the civil lawsuit he and Constand later settled.