NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—When Andrea Constand returned home to Canada after resigning from Temple University in March 2004, she wasn’t herself, her mother testified at Bill Cosby’s criminal trial Monday afternoon.
“I started getting very concerned because my daughter was not the same person when she came home,” Gianna Constand told the jury. “She was very depressed. She wasn’t interacting with any of her friends and during the night… she would be screaming in her sleep.”
She said she’d ask her daughter the next morning if something was wrong but Andrea would always insist she was fine, that she just didn’t get a good night’s sleep, Gianna said.
“At first I believed her but as time grew more and more we noticed that it was bad,” Gianna said. “She’d wake up sweating.”
On Jan. 13, 2005, Andrea finally told her mom Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted her. Gianna was furious and demanded her daughter give her Cosby’s phone number. She left a message and he called her back three days later.
“I guess I was very combative and I kinda yelled, ‘What did you give my daughter? What did you do to her?’” Gianna said, recalling the two-and-a-half hour phone call. “I said, ‘Only a sick man would do that.’ So he said he felt he was a sick man and it took Andrea to stop him, were his last words.”
He admitted what he’d done and apologized, she said.
Under questioning by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, she also revealed she has Parkinson’s disease and began sobbing into a handkerchief.
Gianna’s dramatic nearly three hours of testimony came on the sixth day of Cosby’s criminal trial. Cosby, 80, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea, now 45, at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, home in January 2004. Cosby denies Andrea’s allegations as well as similar ones from more than 60 women.
Last June, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial in the case after a jury deadlocked. The retrial began Monday, April 2. A sexual assault expert and five other women who say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them testified last week followed by Andrea all day Friday and Monday morning.
Gianna took the stand at 3 p.m. Monday.
She described how the family moved to a suburb of Toronto so Andrea could get the best basketball coaching, which led to several scholarship offers from American colleges, and how Cosby began mentoring Andrea after she arrived at Temple University.
But nothing prepared Gianna for the horror story her daughter told her in January 2005 or the graphic description of what happened that Cosby himself gave her, she said.
“He said ‘Don’t worry, Mom, there was no penile penetration,’” she testified, fumbling at having to repeat the words.
“In other words he forcefully put his fingers in her vagina but he didn’t penetrate her with his penis,” she said in a rush. “I have a very hard time to really say that.”
Cosby promised to send her what type of medication he’d given her daughter, she said. Still wanting answers, she said she bought a recording device to tape the next phone call with him.
“I did it because Mr. Cosby had admitted to me what he had done to my daughter and I was hoping that maybe he’d do it again as I’d asked him to be truthful,” she said. “So I recorded it.”
Gianna was at turns feisty and frustrated under cross-examination by defense attorney Kathleen Bliss, who rattled off a series of statement-like questions about possible problems at Andrea’s job at Temple and in her friendship with a woman named Sherry Williams.
“I’m here to discuss the incident,” she said, at times putting her hands to her face or her throat when she got upset. “I don’t see what it has to do with anything.”
Bliss started out taking a gentle approach but got increasingly forceful.
“Don’t talk to me like that. Please,” Gianna said at one point to Bliss.
“Why are you asking me in that voice?” she said to Bliss another time. “Sorry. You were just nice a second ago.”
Then Bliss accused Gianna of benefiting from her daughter’s lawsuit against Cosby and asked Gianna if her daughter bought her a house with the $3 million she received in her settlement agreement.
“I didn’t benefit a thing,” Gianna said. “You know how I found out how much she got? I read it in the paper.”
So you’re denying you received anything, Bliss asked.
“She didn’t buy me a house,” Gianna said, leaning forward in her chair and saying forcefully: “This isn’t about money, Miss Bliss.”
Gianna’s testimony came after Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau had spent all Friday afternoon and two hours Monday morning trying to trip up Andrea. He got her to admit Cosby gave her three cashmere sweaters as a gift at one point and, while she said on the stand she’d never worn one, he pointed her to her own deposition in her civil suit against him where she said she had. And, while she told the Canadian police she called Cosby from her Temple cellphone so he could open the gate and let her into his Elkins Park mansion the night of the alleged assault, Mesereau pointed out her cellphone records show no such phone call.
“I might have been mistaken,” Andrea said. “Sometimes I called him before I left Philly and the gate was open. Sometimes he told me, ‘The gate will be open.’”
He also led her through certain parts of the settlement agreement for her lawsuit against Cosby and asked her why she signed off on a provision in which Cosby admitted no guilt for what he allegedly did to her.
“It was a very painstaking process for my family,” she said. “It tore my family apart and we just wanted it over.”
He also repeatedly asked her about whether she knew Temple employee Marguerite “Margo” Jackson, who was an academic adviser to the women’s basketball team during Andrea’s time there as director of operations.
Jackson is a potential key witness for the defense if she’s allowed to testify. She claims she shared a room with Andrea while traveling with the team in 2004 and that Andrea told her she intended to falsely accuse a “high-profile” person of drugging and sexually assaulting her.
But Andrea said she always roomed alone when she traveled and never had such a conversation with Jackson—or anyone else.
O’Neill did not allow Jackson to testify at Cosby’s last trial, ruling it was hearsay after Andrea said she did not remember her. He has tentatively agreed to allow her to testify at this trial but said it was contingent upon Andrea’s testimony at trial. It is unclear yet if Andrea’s testimony will change his decision.
After Mesereau wrapped up his cross-examination shortly after noon Monday, co-prosecutor Kristen Feden painstakingly took Andrea through her prior statements to law enforcement and her own deposition to show that while she may have been confused about certain details of her relationship with Cosby, she has been consistent about the events of the night in question.