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Friday 18 August 2017

'I was paralysed after Cosby gave me pills', claims abuse accuser

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby's chief accuser took the stand at his sexual assault trial to tell her story publicly for the first time, saying the comedian gave her pills that left her paralysed and helpless before groping her.

"In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, but I was frozen," said Andrea Constand, a former basketball manager at Temple University, Cosby's alma mater.

Cosby (79) is charged with drugging and violating Ms Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

The TV star once dubbed America's Dad could get 10 years in prison if convicted.

Woozy

Ms Constand (44) said Cosby assaulted her after giving her three blue pills he claimed were a natural remedy to ease her stress about a career change.

She said she began feeling woozy after about 20 minutes, with blurred vision and slurred words, before he abused her.

Cosby stared down at a table, resting a hand across his forehead, as Ms Constand testified.

Before yesterday, Ms Constand had never spoken about Cosby in public, barred under the terms of a confidential settlement they reached in 2006. Her deposition from that lawsuit remains sealed.

Sixty women have come forward to say Cosby sexually violated them, but the statute of limitations for prosecution had run out in nearly every case. Ms Constand's case is the only one in which Cosby has been charged.

The stage was set for yesterday's confrontation after prosecutors used the first day-and-a-half of the trial to argue that Cosby made a habit of knocking women out with pills and then molesting them.

Kelly Johnson testified on Monday that Cosby drugged and molested her at a Los Angeles hotel bungalow in 1996.

She said she lost consciousness soon after Cosby pressured her to take a large white pill.

She said when she awoke, Cosby was naked and abused her. The defence has attacked Ms Johnson's credibility over discrepancies in her accounts.

Ms Johnson told a similar story in 1996, when she gave sworn testimony in a deposition attached to a worker's compensation claim.

Joseph Miller, a workers' compensation lawyer, testified yesterday that he was taken aback when Ms Johnson said she had been drugged and violated by Cosby.

He said Ms Johnson made the disclosure while pursuing a claim that she had developed debilitating stress from her secretarial job at the William Morris Agency.

Mr Miller, who represented William Morris in the case, said Ms Johnson was tearful as she described waking up on a bed with her dress pulled down - details that matched the story Ms Johnson told on the stand.

But Mr Miller's timeline differed from Ms Johnson's.

Under questioning from Cosby's lawyers, Mr Miller revealed that his notes from her 1996 deposition show Ms Johnson told him the encounter happened in 1990.

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