Accusers confront Bill Cosby, and they aren’t holding back

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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Women who say comedian Bill Cosby knocked them out with intoxicants and sexually assaulted them decades ago are finally getting a chance to confront him — and they aren't holding back.

Janice Baker-Kinney will return to the witness stand on Thursday after punctuating her first two hours of testimony at Cosby's sexual assault retrial in suburban Philadelphia with a firm declaration: "I was raped."

One woman testifying on Wednesday pointedly called Cosby a "serial rapist," while another choked back tears as she asked him, "You remember, don't you, Mr. Cosby?"

The charged rhetoric irritated Cosby's lawyers, who lost two bids for a mistrial, as prosecutors built a case that the man once revered as "America's Dad" was one of Hollywood's biggest predators long before he met Andrea Constand, the chief accuser in his retrial.

A Cosby spokeswoman dismissed the women's testimony as "prosecution by distraction."

And as Cosby headed into the courthouse Thursday, his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, called them the "supporting cast" to Constand.

"These women proved that they were here to back up their sister — they got their sister's back," he said.

Baker-Kinney has been unflappable under cross-examination, calling out Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau for rolling his eyes at her and chiding the veteran defense attorney after she said he attempted to twist what she said about being assaulted.

She also turned back his attempts to dent her credibility, freely admitting that she experimented with LSD and other drugs in her youth and had a long bout with alcoholism. She denied using drugs during the time she said Cosby assaulted her, other than the pills she said he gave her. "It still takes me everything within my being to say the words, 'I was raped,'" Baker-Kinney testified.

Now well into middle age, the accusers spoke of entering Cosby's orbit as starstruck young women seeking career help or, in Baker-Kinney's case, simply looking for a fun time.

All of them testified they wound up unconscious from pills or alcohol Cosby gave them, unable to say no or resist.

Baker-Kinney was a 24-year-old Reno, Nevada, casino bartender when she says Cosby gave her pills she suspected to be quaaludes and had sex with her in 1982.

Chelan Lasha, sobbing uncontrollably as she testified, told jurors that she got to know Cosby through a family connection as a 17-year-old aspiring model and actress in 1986.

Lasha said Cosby gave her a little blue pill he described as an antihistamine to help her get over a cold, along with two shots of amaretto "to help break up the cough." The combination immobilized her and rendered her unable to speak. Cosby then assaulted her, touching her breast and rubbing himself against her leg, Lasha said.

Lawyer Gloria Allred watched from the courtroom gallery as her clients Lasha and Baker-Kinney testified. "They were so courageous," Allred said, calling their poise amid the defense's attacks "a beautiful thing to behold, because they insisted on telling their truth."

Lasha, Baker-Kinney and Heidi Thomas, who told jurors "I want to see a serial rapist convicted," are among five additional accusers who prosecutors plan to call before Constand testifies about the alleged 2004 assault that led to Cosby's only criminal charges.

The former women's basketball administrator at Cosby's alma mater, Temple University, alleges he gave her pills and molested her. He says the encounter was consensual.

Cosby's first trial last year ended in a hung jury.

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