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Emotional testimony dominates 3rd day of Cosby trial

Three of Bill Cosby’s accusers took the stand on Wednesday.

Retrial Of Bill Cosby Underway For Sexual Assault Charges
Chelan Lasha.
Dominick Reuter-Pool/Getty Images

One of Bill Cosby’s accusers confronted Cosby from the witness stand on the third day of his sexual assault trial on Wednesday. “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?” Chelan Lasha said tearfully to him from the stand.

Lasha’s testimony anchored what was perhaps the most intense, emotional day of Cosby’s trial so far. Cosby is charged with drugging and assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004. The prosecution is calling five additional accusers, including Lasha, to the stand to establish a pattern for Cosby.

Lasha was the second of the five women to testify, and her outburst toward Cosby prompted the defense to ask Judge Steven O’Neill for a mistrial. The judge declined, though he struck the comment from the record.

In her testimony, Lasha recounted a 1986 encounter with Cosby in Las Vegas, when she was a 17-year-old aspiring actress who had just graduated from high school. She said Cosby expressed interest in helping her with her career, and had spoken with her and her grandmother before he invited her to his suite at the Las Vegas Hilton.

When Lasha arrived, she said, a photographer took some pictures of her. She had a cold, so Cosby offered her a pill that he described as an antihistamine and gave her a shot of amaretto. Lasha, who had a cold at the time, said she trusted Cosby and took the pills.

Lasha said Cosby then laid her down on the bed, and she could not move. “He kept pinching my breast and humping my leg,” she said. “Waking up, I was naked.”

Lasha said she remembered Cosby grunting and humping her; when she came to, she was naked. Lasha said she told her high school guidance counselor and her sister what had happened. She said a few days after the incident, she received a phone call from Cosby: “People who talk too much can be quieted,” he said, according to her.

Lasha’s tearful testimony was bookended by the defense’s cross-examination of Heidi Thomas, a music teacher from Colorado who said the comedian drugged and assaulted her in 1984, when she was 24. Thomas, who delivered her story on Tuesday, faced down defense attorney Kathleen Bliss, who questioned her about her decision to come forward with accusations against Cosby, asking about her frequent media appearances — a line of attack that echoes the defense’s tactics against Constand, whom lawyers painted as seeking fame and money in opening arguments — and asking her about a message of support she sent Cosby.

Thomas said she came forward to support other women who weren’t believed. She also stood firm when Bliss questioned her open support for Constand, including a posting on Facebook.

When questioned about this support by the defense, Thomas replied, “I want to see a serial rapist convicted.”

The jury heard from one more accuser on Wednesday: Janice Baker-Kinney, who said she met Cosby as a bartender in Reno in 1982. She said Cosby gave her pills, and as they played backgammon, she passed out. She woke up the next morning undressed, in bed with Cosby.

The defense, in cross-examination, tried to imply that Baker-Kinner took the drugs willingly by bringing up past drug and alcohol abuse. They questioned her past statements, including ones where she suggested she wasn’t aware she had been raped by Cosby until other accusers came forward.

“I still don’t like to say the words — I was raped,” Baker-Kinney said on the stand at one point. “I don’t want to think that while I was unconscious someone thought it was okay to have sex with me. I don’t want to be that stupid idiot.”