By David DeKok
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – The judge in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial on Wednesday refused a defense request that he declare a mistrial after one of the accusers called as a prosecution witness blurted out, “You know what you did, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?”
Cosby, 80, once a beloved stand-up comedian and television star known for his family-friendly material, is on trial on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a 45-year-old former friend and colleague, in 2004.
Three other accusers testified at a Pennsylvania court on Wednesday that they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby in the 1980s, when Cosby was at the height of his popularity as star of “The Cosby Show.” Two more were expected to testify later in the trial, in addition to Constand.
One of those accusers, aspiring actress and model Chelan Lasha, surprised the courtroom with her outburst directed at Cosby while the jury of seven men and five women listened.
Cosby’s defense team immediately asked for a mistrial, fearing her remark could unduly influence the jury. Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill denied the motion but warned a tearful Lasha against repeating such conduct.
Cosby betrayed little emotion, occasionally making brief facial expressions.
Lasha said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 1986 when she was 17 and just out of high school in Las Vegas.
“I was a child, and a good girl, and he took it all away from me,” Lasha said, weeping through parts of her testimony. “I trusted him.”
In all some 50 women have accused Cosby of molestation going back decades. All but Constand’s case were too old to be prosecuted, and Cosby’s first trial ended in a mistrial last June due to a deadlocked jury.
Cosby denies the charge of aggravated indecent assault of Constand, saying any sexual contact was consensual. His lawyers have portrayed Constand as a gold-digging con artist.
Since the first trial, the #MeToo movement exploded, prompting an increasing number of women to come forward with accusations of harassment or assault from rich and famous men.
Another accuser, Janice Baker-Kinney, said Cosby drugged and raped her in Reno, Nevada, in 1982, when she was 24.
During a game of backgammon, Cosby offered her a pill she believes was a Quaalude, then a second one, Baker-Kinney said.
She next recalled waking up on a couch with her clothes undone and Cosby fondling her. Later she recalled waking up in bed with Cosby, both of them naked.
“There was a sticky wetness between my legs, and it felt like I had had sex the night before,” Baker-Kinney said.
(Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)