NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) – Patching inconsistencies in their witness’s story Tuesday, prosecutors called up two people to support the claims of a woman who says Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted her.
Kelly Johnson gave graphic testimony Monday about a night she claims to have spent in Cosby’s bungalow at the Bel-Air Hotel in 1996. This encounter predates by eight years Cosby’s relationship with Andrea Constand, the woman he is on trial for allegedly assaulting at his home in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.
Though Montgomery County prosecutors want to establish that 79-year-old Cosby has a pattern of assaulting women after incapacitating them, Cosby’s defense worked Monday to undermine Johnson’s credibility.
Striving to give the jury confidence in their witness, the government on Tuesday called up Johnson’s mother.
Patrice Sewell had been living in Los Angeles in the 1990s when her daughter worked at the William Morris Agency, where Cosby was a client. She testified about meeting Cosby after a show in 1991, saying her daughter was “proud to introduce her family to Cosby.”
But Sewell recalled getting a call in 1996 from an upset Johnson.
“She said they were telling lies about her and that Mr. Cosby was trying to get her fired,” Sewell said of her daughter’s employer, William Morris.
Things got worse a few weeks later, Sewell continued.
“She called me and her father, and she kept looking down, and she said that Mr. Cosby had asked her to meet him at the Bel-Air Hotel at lunch,” Sewell testified.
Sewell echoed her daughter’s testimony about Cosby greeting Johnson at his bungalow, wearing just a robe and slippers, and giving her a pill, then checking under her tongue to make sure she swallowed it.
“Did he do anything to you,” Sewell remembered asking. She said Johnson responded that she “woke up on the bed and was disheveled and she left.”
“I knew that wasn’t all of the story,” Sewell added.
Sewell told the court that her daughter “changed considerably” after leaving Cosby’s bungalow. “Her self-esteem was low … she was uncomfortable around people,” Sewell said.
As to why they did not contact the police, Sewell testified Johnson’s “father didn’t want her to be humiliated.”
During cross-examination, Liner Law attorney Angela Agrusa noted that Johnson is represented by media maven Gloria Allred, and told that same story on “The Dr. Phil Show” and to CNN’s Don Lemon.
“So your most recent recollection,” Agrusa said, “is really what you saw on TV? Correct?”
“Yes,” Sewell said.
Sustaining an objection, Judge Steven O’Neill blocked Sewell from answering when Agrusa asked if the real reason Johnson was put on leave was for socializing with a William Morris client. Johnson had gone on maternity leave in 1993 when she had child with the singer Maxi Priest.
Sewell testified that her daughter did not return to work because she “she was clinically depressed,” a diagnosis substantiated by a doctor for the workers’ compensation claim Johnson filed.
For their next witness, prosecutors called attorney Joseph Miller.
Though he worked as judge with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board in California from 2005 to 2012, Miller represented William Morris before that. The lawyer said it’s not unusual for William Morris to face claims from former assistants who stay that working for “theatrical agents” gave them mental stress.
Discussing his 1996 deposition of Johnson, Miller recalled asking her what about work caused her stress.
“She related to me some interactions she had with Bill Cosby,” Miller said. “That certainly stood out to me.”
Miller said he remembered Johnson had been crying during the deposition.
“Ms. Johnson was telling me Mr. Cosby invited her to the Bel-Air Hotel, had given her a pill to take … and some sort of alcohol and was semi-unconscious,” Miller said.
“And he had exposed himself to her and taken some of her clothing off … that he had taken out his penis and put lubricant on his penis and wanted her to fondle him,” Miller continued. “And she didn’t want to do that,” Miller said.
Asked by District Attorney Kevin Steele how Johnson’s claim was resolved, Miller said they settled for a “lump sum of money.”
Cosby’s defense attorney Brian McMonagle clarified on cross-examination that Johnson received a $10,000 settlement from her workers’ compensation claim.
There is no transcript of the 1996 deposition — something that Miller thought might have been done because of “the sensitivity of the topic” — so McMonagle questioned Miller about the notes the attorney took when interviewing Johnson in 1996.
When Miller had asked Johnson about her relationship with her boss, the late Thomas Illius, Johnson replied that Illius was inquisitive about and critical of her phone calls with Cosby.
“She went on about how difficult it was to work for Mr. Illius?” McMonagle asked.
“Yes,” Miller said.
“That he belittled her?” McMonagle continued.
“Yes,” Miller said.
“That he came too close to her for her own comfort?”
“Yes,” Miller said.
McMonagle attempted to show that the stress Johnson felt was from her workplace and relationship with Illius, not with Cosby.
McMonagle then threw a jab about Johnson’s alleged cocaine use, but Judge O’Neill sustained an objection from DA Steele.
Wrapping up, the defense asked Miller if he had an independent recollection of Johnson stating that in 1996 Mr. Cosby gave her money.
“I do not,” Miller said, “but my notes do reflect that.”
McMonagle concluded by emphasizing that the workers’ compensation claim Johnson filed described a different timeline than the one she gave Monday to the court.
While Johnson testified about going to Cosby’s house in 1990 and meeting the comedian at the Bel-Air Hotel in 1996, those dates are reversed in the workers’ compensation notes. In explanation of the mixup Monday, Johnson had testified that she was “balling” during the deposition and does not remember “exactly what was said.”
The prosecution’s star witness Tuesday would be Constand herself, called to the stand after McMonagle moved unsuccessfully for a mistrial.
McMonagle claimed that Cosby was prejudiced by the lack of transcript from Johnson’s deposition testimony.
“This information was brought to you May 19,” Judge O’Neill ruled. “I deny your motion for mistrial,” he added.
The prosecution also on Tuesday took testimony from Dave Mason, a Canadian police officer with specialized training in sexual assault.
Mason was the responding officer when Costand and her mother, Gianna, accused Cosby of assault in 2005.
Though Constand claims Cosby assaulted her in 2004, she did not come forward until after she left her job at Temple University and moved in with her parents’ in Canada.
Mason recalled Constand saying that the attack happened after going out to dinner with Cosby and some other people, then going to Cobsy’s home, where the pair were alone.
Constand told the police Cosby gave her three small pills, and her legs began to feel like “jelly,” Mason said.
“What kind of pills?” Assistant District Attorney M. Stewart Ryan asked.
“Blue pills to help her relax,” Mason said.
Constand told police that she and Cosby had gone to sitting room after she ingested the pills.
“He lied in a spooning position … he touched her breasts … and he made her touch his penis,” Mason said, describing Constand’s 2005 claims to police.
“Didn’t she also say something foreign was in her body,” Ryan probed. “Did you ask her about that?”
“No,” Mason responded, “because she didn’t sound sure.”
Mason did recall that Constand claimed to remember the sound of Cosby’s breathing and then fell asleep.
Constand told police that she went into Cosby’s kitchen in the morning when she woke up. She took a few bites of the muffin he gave her because she “didn’t feel well,” and then left, Mason said.
As to why Constand waited until 2005 to come forward, Mason recalled her saying she did not want to cause problems at Temple because of her interest in sports broadcast journalism.
“She did mention she was in contact with a lawyer in Philadelphia,” Mason added.
McMonagle asked Mason on cross-examination about the inconsistency of Constand’s story she initially reported, about going to a restaurant with Cosby, and her claim that she said had never before been alone with him.
“So, she never told you she had been alone with him before, or in a bed with him in Connecticut did she,” McMonagle asked.
“She did not,” Mason said.
After excusing Mason, the prosecution called Stewart Parsos, who has been married to Constand’s sister since 1994.
A detective constable for the Toronto traffic police, Parsos said he found out about his sister-in-law’s sexual assault from his wife.
“I told her, ‘she needs to report to the police,’” Parsos said. “I meant the police down here where it happened, but being the middle man that was misinterpreted.”
Knowing that Canadian eavesdropping laws allow one-party consent, Parsos said he urged his mother to use a recording device when he learned of her plans to call Cosby.
Parsos described it as pandemonium in 2005 when news broke that Constand was pressing charges in Pennsylvania.
“Thirty news trucks out front of my in-laws’ house,” Parsos said, noting that he drove to Pennsylvania with Constand from Canada so she wouldn’t be alone.
He said he told her during the drive to tell the truth — “the truth is easy,” he said.
Continue reading: Cosby Accuser Offers Smiles in Tearful Assault Testimony