NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) - Kicking off Bill Cosby’s assault trial, the jury heard testimony Monday afternoon from a woman who says she was drugged by the comedian a decade before the sexual encounter for which he is now on trial.
Kelly Johnson, 55, is one of the 13 Cosby accusers whom prosecutors wanted to call to the stand, hoping to show that Cosby’s alleged 2004 assault of Andrea Constand is part of a decades-long pattern. As with dozens of Cosby accusers, the statue of limitations bars Johnson from bringing her charges against Cosby herself.
A resident now of Atlanta, Georgia, where she is a coordinator for a Fortune 500 company, Johnson says she first met Cosby in April 1990 when she lived in Los Angles, working as an assistant to Thomas Illius at the William Morris Talent Agency, whose main client was Bill Cosby.
Johnson said Cosby began getting friendly with her in 1991, calling her once a week at home. Though the calls stopped for a while when she went on maternity leave, Johnson says they resumed when when she came back to work for Illius in 1993.
"I had the utmost respect and adoration of him," Johnson said.
In 1996, when Johnson was 34 years old, she said Cosby invited her to his home to teach her about "set blocking, camera angles and lighting."
Refusal was not an option: when Cosby "asked, he was really telling,” she testified.
At Cosby’s home, Johnson said she became uncomfortable while acting out a scene about a woman who was tipsy, walked into the kitchen, embraced a man and kissed him.
"We ran the scene several times,” Johnson said, “and he said I wasn't participating in the embrace and kiss very well.”
Johnson said she met Cosby later that year at the Bel Air Hotel where they were supposed to talk about her career over lunch. Cosby was staying at a bungalow in the hotel, and Johnson said he answered the door in a bath robe and slippers.
He informed her he was having lunch brought in. "There was water and wine, and we had a little conversation,” Johnson said.
Johnson fought back tears as she continued. “He told me I looked like I needed to relax,” she said, "then he offered a large white pill in his hand."
Though she had asked what it was, Johnson said Cosby was evasive. “Would I give you anything to hurt you?” she said he had told her. “It will just help you relax."
Johnson claims she at first only pretended to take the pill, but that Cosby wanted to look inside her mouth to make sure she had swallowed it.