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Bill Cosby Accuser Tells Her Story In A Pennsylvania Court

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Entertainer Bill Cosby's trial has been unfolding this week. A woman who had accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her more than a decade ago testified Tuesday in a Pennsylvania courthouse. It was the first time Andrea Constand had told her story publicly. And she did it just feet away from the celebrity once known as America's dad. More now from Bobby Allyn of member station WHYY.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Constand, a 6-foot-tall, lifelong athlete, was steady and confident as she spoke from the witness stand. She recalled what happened in 2004 after she says Cosby gave her what she thought were herbal pills to relax her. He said quote, "they're your friends." Then she felt like she couldn't move.

Emotional at times but maintaining her composure, Constand told the jury Cosby molested her. She said she had gone to his house seeking career advice but left feeling violated. After her testimony, Constand's attorney, Dolores Troiani, said taking the stand wasn't an easy feat.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DOLORES TROIANI: It takes a lot of guts to do what she did, to come forward in a room filled with people and to be able to maintain her composure and her train of thought, even.

ALLYN: Constand testified in the first criminal case against Cosby. More than 50 women have accused him of sexual assault or misconduct. One of those women is Lili Bernard. She appeared in court with a bundle of pink flowers, which she said represented feminine resistance.

LILI BERNARD: So I brought these, and I sat in a place where I had full view in the courtroom of her and made sure that she could see the pink gladiolus flowers and me in white.

ALLYN: To Bernard, Constand speaking in court was, in a way, the voice of dozens of women. Cosby's legal team attempted to show that Constand's prior statements now appear to be contradictory. For instance, she told police she stopped communicating with Cosby after the incident. But the defense team's phone records show she called Cosby 53 times. Lawyer Gloria Allred represented a witness with a similar story to Constand's who testified Monday. Allred says Cosby's legal team is trying to paint Constand to the jury as an untrustworthy person with a bad memory.

GLORIA ALLRED: I say that's a distraction. The real issue is consent.

ALLYN: Cosby's attorneys have said the encounter in question was consensual. Cosby said the two had a longstanding flirtation. Outside the courtroom before the hearing started, a small group of Cosby defenders believed that. They cheered him on by shouting one of his famous lines.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hey, hey, hey.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We love you, Bill.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: We've been watching you all our lives, Bill.

ALLYN: Eventually, it'll be up to seven men and five women to decide Cosby's fate. But first, his lawyer's cross-examination of Constand continues today. For NPR News, I'm Bobby Allyn.

(SOUNDBITE OF BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE'S "GUILTY CUBICLES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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