NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) — Before opening statements in the retrial of Bill Cosby on Monday, police arrested a topless protester who jumped a barricade and ran toward the 80-year-old comedian.
Screaming “Women’s Lives Matter, Hey, Hey, Hey,” Nicolle Rochelle, 39, of Little Falls, New Jersey, had the slogan “Women’s Lives Matter” written on her body in red ink, surrounded in black ink by the names of some of the dozens of women who have accused Cosby of assault.
Sheriff’s deputies intercepted Rochelle before she could make contact with Cosby, who was heading toward the Montgomery Court of Common Pleas this morning with his entourage.
After she was wrestled to the ground and taken away in handcuffs, Rochelle was charged with disorderly conduct and released.
“The main goal was to make Cosby uncomfortable because that is exactly what he has been doing for decades to women and to show him that the body can be aggressive and empowered,” she said afterward in an interview with the Associated Press.
Rochelle’s arrest was a flashpoint in the otherwise peaceful protest of various women’s rights organizations, including Femen and The National Organization for Women, whose members were chanting “Justice for Andrea” and “Women’s Lives Matter.”
In his opening statement this morning, District Attorney Kevin Steele revealed that the accuser in the case, Andrea Constand, reached a $3.4 million civil settlement with Cosby in 2006.
Constand first reported that Cosby had drugged and raped her in 2005 after leaving her job at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee.
She resorted to a civil suit after district attorney in office at the time in Montgomery had declined to prosecute her case, but much of the details of the earlier proceedings are sealed.
Before Cosby’s last trial, which ended in a hung jury, Judge Steven O’Neill permitted the prosecution to read portions of deposition from the civil case in which Cosby admitted to giving women quaaludes before having sex with them.
Constand claims that she looked up to the much older Cosby as a mentor, and that he raped her one night at his home in Cheltenham after incapacitating her with pills.
Though the accuser is a lesbian, Cosby says he had a consensual romantic relationship with her.
Constand is the only one of Cosby’s accusers whose claims are not too old to prosecute.
For the second trial, Cosby has tapped celebrity attorney Tom Mesereau to lead his defense, which hinges on attacking Constand as a greedy liar, as revealed through pretrial filings.
In addition to winning the acquittal of Michael Jackson in the singer’s 2005 child-molestation case, Meserau famously defended Mike Tyson and Suge Knight.
He succeeded earlier this month in getting Judge O’Neill to permit witness testimony from Margo Jackson, though the former Temple employee had been barred from taking the stand in Cosby’s last trial.
Jackson signed a sworn affidavit this year that says Constand confided in her during their time at Temple about a plan to make money from railroading a celebrity with assault claims.