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Bill Cosby’s Trial: Prosecution Says He Used Drugs to Get Sex

• The outlines of Mr. Cosby’s defense has been to say that he gave her only Benadryl and that the sexual encounter was consensual and part of a romantic relationship. He has said he will not testify, but his spokesman said Friday that may change.


Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. on Friday.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

In a deposition read in court, Mr. Cosby described quaaludes as party aids.

They were the sort of thing that he might offer a woman to put her in a receptive mood for sex.

“The same,” he said in the testimony from a 2005 lawsuit, “as a person would say have a drink.”

But prosecutors cast Mr. Cosby’s use of the drug, a powerful nervous system depressant, in a darker light, reading out his words from the old deposition to suggest he actually secured them to incapacitate the women he might meet.

The prosecutors contend Mr. Cosby used quaaludes, or some similar drug, one night in 2004 to disable Ms. Constand, a former employee of Temple University whom Mr. Cosby is charged with sexually assaulting on a couch at his home near here.

Ms. Constand testified in court earlier in the week that the pills Mr. Cosby gave her put her “underwater,” slipping in and out of consciousness and unable to prevent his sexual advances. She said she couldn’t move her arms or legs or tell him to stop.

“I was frozen,” she said. “I just wanted it to stop.”


Bill Cosby, center, walks Friday with publicist Andrew Wyatt on the fifth day of Mr. Cosby’s sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

Pool photo by Lucas Jackson

She said he had indicated they were herbal pills.

Mr. Cosby said in his deposition that the three pills he gave her were Benadryl, though he never told her what they were, and that the sex was consensual. He said he considered Benadryl a sleeping aid, one that he frequently used himself


Andrea Constand at the courthouse.

Pool photo by Matt Rourke

As to the quaaludes that he acknowledged having given to other women decades earlier, he said in the deposition that he never gave them to anyone who was unwilling or unsuspecting. His lawyers say that prosecutors are ignoring that quaaludes were once a popular recreational drug known for their capacity to create sexual arousal — “disco biscuits,” his lawyers labeled them in court papers years ago — and not a date rape drug.

Mr. Cosby described obtaining seven prescriptions for quaaludes from a Los Angeles doctor he named as Leroy Amar, now dead.

They were a drug young people used to party in the 1970s, he explained.

“There were times I wanted to have them just in case,” Mr. Cosby said.

And the effect on one woman he gave quaaludes to, Mr. Cosby said, was to become “what we called in those days ‘high.’”

The woman was identified only as Therese in the part of the deposition read in court.

But Mr. Cosby has admitted giving quaaludes to a woman called Therese Serignese before having sex with her backstage in Las Vegas in the 1970s. Ms. Serignese is now one of several women suing Mr. Cosby. She sat in court for the testimony Friday.


A page from a transcript of Mr. Cosby’s deposition from a 2005 lawsuit.

Mr. Cosby gave the deposition testimony, which has become a powerful element of his criminal trial in the Montgomery County Courthouse, during four sessions in late 2005 and early 2006. Then, he was answering questions in a civil lawsuit accusing him of assault, brought by Ms. Constand, after prosecutors declined to bring charges in 2005. Prosecutors last year revisited that decision when they saw in his testimony that Mr. Cosby had acknowledged the use of the drugs.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office rested its case Friday, and the defense will begin producing its witnesses on Monday.

One of the final prosecution witnesses Friday was Dr. Veronique Valliere, an expert on the behavior of sexual assault victims, who testified that they often try to continue as normal or delay coming forward and can easily forget things about the assault.

The prosecution introduced Dr. Valliere to try to counter defense arguments that Ms. Constand didn’t come forward to police for nearly a year, and maintained contact with Mr. Cosby for several months after the night in question.

“It’s typical, we carry on,” Dr. Valliere said. “Victims want to forget about it and pretend it didn’t happen.”

Brian J. McMonagle, Mr. Cosby’s lawyer, said Mr. Cosby was describing a consensual relationship with Ms. Constand.


The defense lawyer Brian McMonagle, outside the courtroom of the Cosby trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

Pool photo by Matt Rourke

He said Dr. Valliere had posted comments on Facebook that showed she was biased. The prosecution’s final witness, Timothy P. Rohrig, a forensic toxicologist, testified that the symptoms described by Ms. Constand – sleepiness, dry mouth, poor muscle coordination – were consistent with Benadryl or quaaludes, which are both drugs that act on the central nervous system. He said the recommended standard dose of Benadryl was a single tablet; Mr. Cosby says he gave Ms. Constand the equivalent of one and a half doses.

As they presented their case in the first week of the trial, prosecutors brought witnesses including Ms. Constand and another woman, Kelly Johnson, who said she had been drugged and assaulted by Mr. Cosby.

It’s still unclear whether Mr. Cosby himself will testify. His spokesman would not rule it out on Friday. “Nothing is ever off the table in a trial of this magnitude,” the spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, told reporters outside the courthouse.

“You have to look at all your options,” he said. “In a ballgame, things change and players are taken out and sometimes the star player plays and sometimes he doesn’t.”

That is a change from Mr. Cosby’s earlier announcement that he would not testify.

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