Jurors continued to hear testimony Wednesday from women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault at the comedian’s retrial—though not yet the woman whose allegations are behind the criminal charges against him.
Pressed by Cosby’s attorney Wednesday about her delay in coming forward about her sexual assault allegations, one of his accusers seemed to allude to the #MeToo movement and its effect on her.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Tom Mesereau asked Janice Baker-Kinney why she did not say for three decades that she was raped. She said it was because she did not want to admit to the experience, and then she felt “weak and stupid.”
Mesereau suggested that without the public statements of other Cosby accusers, Baker-Kinney “still wouldn’t think of it as rape.”
Baker-Kinney rejected that assertion, instead citing ”things that are happening today in the news that I’m sure many of us have heard about, with people feeling empowered enough to come forward about what has happened to them.”
“I too denied it for many years,” Baker-Kinney said. “I too didn’t consider it sexual assault or rape because women tend to blame themselves when things like this happen.”
Testimony began Monday in Cosby’s retrial on aggravated indecent assault charges for the alleged 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
Baker-Kinney was a bartender at Harrah’s Casino in 1984 when she met Cosby. She was invited to a small party Cosby was hosting, she said, when Cosby offered her a pill, which she believed to be quaaludes, and was encouraged to take two.
“In hindsight, it was a stupid thing to do, but at that time I thought, well, if Bill Cosby says it’s OK it must be alright to take these,” she said. “His appearance was a happy, nice comedian thing.”
Baker-Kinney testified that she passed out after taking the pills. She said she remembers being on a couch at one point with her shirt and pants undone, and Cosby touching her, then waking up naked with Cosby naked in bed next to her, “and it felt like that I had had sex the night before.”
When she went to leave, she said, Cosby came to the door, “looked at me seriously and said ‘now this is just between you and me,’” Baker-Kinney said.
Mesereau also pressed Baker-Kinney about her interactions with Constand, who has not yet testified at the retrial. Baker-Kinney said she met Constand once in 2017 with a group and they were together for about an hour, but they never discussed Cosby during that meeting because of possible litigation.
“Are you rolling your eyes at me?” Baker-Kinney asked Mesereau after she gave that answer. “Well I’m sorry, I’m under oath and I did not.”
Earlier in the day, prosecutors called their second prior bad acts witness, Chelan Lasha, who testified that Cosby molested her in 1986 at the Hilton in Las Vegas when she was 17 years old.
Lasha said she told Cosby she was suffering from allergies or a cold, and he offered her a pill in response. After that, she said, Cosby fondled her breasts and “humped” her leg. He then woke her “several hours later,” she said, by clapping his hands and saying, “Daddy says wake up.”
Lasha was emotional throughout her testimony, crying and frequently wiping her eyes. On more than one occasion, she spoke or sobbed audibly on the stand when no question had been asked of her. Based on one of those outbursts, the defense moved for a mistrial, which Judge Steven T. O’Neill denied.
First thing Wednesday morning, prior bad acts witness Heidi Thomas continued her testimony that began Tuesday. She testified that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1984 at a house outside Reno, Nevada. She said she does not remember most of her several-day visit to the house, after taking a sip of wine Cosby gave her.
Thomas, Baker-Kinney and Lasha have all been admitted as prior bad acts witnesses for the prosecution. A total of five accusers other than Constand have been admitted for the retrial.