NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - Bill Cosby told the mother of the woman who has accused him of sexual assault that he was a “sick man” and apologized, the mother testified on Wednesday at the comedian’s criminal trial.
Gianna Constand, Andrea Constand’s mother, told a Pennsylvania jury that she had a 2-1/2-hour phone conversation with Cosby after her daughter told her about the alleged 2004 assault a year after it happened.
“He admitted he was a sick man,” she said, as the 79-year-old entertainer, sat with his head bowed and shook his head vigorously. “He said, ‘I apologize to Andrea and I apologize to you.'”
The claim came after Andrea Constand finished more than six hours of testimony, as defense lawyers sought to undermine her credibility by portraying her as an opportunist who pursued Cosby’s affections before manufacturing a story in order to go after his fortune.
Cosby has faced sexual assault allegations from dozens of women, but Constand’s accusation is the only one to lead to criminal charges. The man once known as “America’s dad” for his role in the 1980s television hit “The Cosby Show,” has denied all wrongdoing.
Defense attorneys were quick to assert that the elder Constand had misconstrued the conversation, which contained graphic details, and said Cosby had asked the younger Constand to “tell the truth” about the encounter.
“He was sorry that you were upset,” defense lawyer Angela Agrusa said, providing an alternate explanation for Cosby’s apology.
“No, he was sorry for what he did,” Gianna Constand shot back.
Constand recorded a subsequent conversation with Cosby that was played for the jury. During that call, Cosby avoided any discussion of the incident and instead suggested he would be willing to pay for Constand to attend graduate school.
The testimony came a day after Andrea Constand described the alleged assault, which she said came after Cosby gave her three unidentified bills that left her feeling “frozen” and unable to resist.
Phone records showed Constand called Cosby 53 times between Jan. 20, 2004, days after the incident, and March 31, 2004, when she left Temple University, including twice on Valentine’s Day. They also indicated she called lawyers specializing in civil litigation before reporting the alleged assault to police.
Constand told jurors she had only spoken with Cosby a handful of times, all related to her administrative job with the women’s basketball program at Temple. Cosby, a university trustee, followed the athletics department closely, she said.
Agrusa noted that Constand and Cosby exchanged numerous gifts, and that the comedian gave her cashmere sweaters, perfume and a $225 hair dryer.
Constand sued Cosby in 2005 after prosecutors initially decided not to charge him. The lawsuit was settled in 2006 for an undisclosed sum.
Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Chris Reese