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Bill Cosby lawyer scours accuser’s words, looking for doubt

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  • NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby’s lawyer opened the comedian’s sexual assault retrial last week with a blistering attack on accuser Andrea Constand, telling jurors that evidence would show she’s nothing more than a con artist who framed the comedian and cashed in with a $3.4 million civil settlement.

    Now with Constand on the witness stand and facing more defence questions on Monday, Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau is scouring a binder full of her police statements and prior testimony — and he’s finding some inconsistencies.

    Mesereau hasn’t set off many of fireworks yet, but in more than two hours of cross examination on Friday the veteran trial lawyer had Constand flustered with questions about whether she’d ever said she was affectionate toward Cosby, and a line of attack centred on her involvement in a Ponzi scheme.

    In her testimony on Friday, Constand denied ever having intimate contact with Cosby prior to the night in January 2004 that she said he drugged and molested her, but Mesereau showed her a 2005 deposition in which she testified that she told her mother she’d occasionally been affectionate toward him.

    Constand, who’s from the Toronto area, told Mesereau she was just being nice when she hugged Cosby or kissed him on the cheek, because she was grateful for his friendship and mentorship.

    But Mesereau, who’s best known for winning Michael Jackson an acquittal in his 2005 child molestation case, was incredulous as Constand denied being aware that Cosby was sexually attracted to her — even after he touched her thigh on one occasion and tried unbuttoning her pants on another.

    Constand was more confident and composed as she told jurors about the night in question.

    She testified that Cosby offered her pills and a sip of wine after she said she was “stressed” about telling the coach of her plans to leave to study massage therapy in her native Canada. She said she awoke to find the actor known as “America’s Dad” penetrating her with his fingers, touching her breast and putting her hand on his penis.

    Mesereau clawed back, making clear to jurors that Constand’s answers have varied on the date of the alleged assault, how often she dined out with Cosby, whether she made a point of wearing a cashmere sweater he gifted her to one of their meetings and where she wound up when she visited his room at a Connecticut casino.

    Constand was the director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University in Philadelphia when she met Cosby, a powerful alumnus and member of the board of trustees.

    Mesereau was trying to portray Constand to jurors as the aggressor, suggesting she pursued Cosby for a romantic relationship and preyed on the loneliness he felt after the 1997 killing of his son, Ennis, even though such activity may have been barred by her employment.

    Constand said she didn’t remember taking a required sexual assault and harassment training seminar when she started working at Temple, or another one on avoiding conflicts of interest, such as fraternizing with board trustees.

    Mesereau showed documents Constand signed confirming she participation in the classes.

    Asked if she was taught to promptly report sexual assault allegations, Constand replied: “I can’t speak to what was in the curriculum.”

    Constand also struggled to explain why she had sent emails soliciting funds for a purported Ponzi scheme while at Temple, claiming she didn’t know much about the company and had only cut and pasted promises of big returns for a risk-free $65 investment to help a friend.

    The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

    ___

    Follow Mike Sisak at www.twitter.com/mikesisak.

    ___

    For more coverage visit www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial.

    Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press






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    National

    Canadian was killed in Peru, Global Affairs says

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  • The death of a Canadian who was killed in Peru is linked to the reported murder of an Indigenous human rights defender, Canadian authorities said Sunday.

    Global Affairs Canada confirmed in an email that the killing of the unnamed Canadian is related to the alleged assassination of Indigenous elder Olivia Arevalo Lomas.

    Arevalo Lomas was a human rights activist of the Shipibo-Konibo people in the Ucayali region.

    The federal government said it is providing consular assistance to the family of the Canadian.

    The government extended its condolences following Arevalo Lomas’s death. 

    Peru’s police ombudsman condemned the death of the Indigenous elder in series of Twitter messages, describing Arevalo Lomas as a promoter of her people’s cultural rights.

    The ombudsman said increased illegal activity was putting Indigenous people’s lives at risk.

    The Canadian Press


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    Liberal MP Drouin says allegation made against him at party’s Halifax convention

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  • OTTAWA — Liberal MP Francis Drouin says an allegation has been made against him following an incident at the party’s convention in Halifax this weekend.

    Drouin, a 34-year-old MP from eastern Ontario, was described earlier this year as a rising star in the Liberal Party with a firm grip on the agriculture file and standing as the most-lobbied backbench MP on Parliament Hill.

    In a statement emailed to Liberal MPs and staff Sunday, Drouin says he can confirm an allegation has been made but doesn’t say what it is about.

    He says he is co-operating fully with the investigation, that no charges have been laid against him and he believes it is important for all individuals to feel safe coming forward with their stories and to receive support.

    The news comes a day after the Liberal Party held an hour-long seminar at the convention named “From #MeToo to never again: creating safe work environments.”

    A spokesman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says all questions should be directed to the party’s whip, Pablo Rodriguez, who hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

    The Canadian Press


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