PHILADELPHIA – Andrea Constand remained something of an enigma over the years her sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby played out in Pennsylvania courts and the public square.
An athlete and spiritual seeker turned massage therapist, she lived a quiet life with her dogs in Toronto until the case burst open again in 2015. She had remained largely anonymous during the initial police investigation in 2005, when a local prosecutor declined to arrest Cosby. And she signed a nondisclosure agreement a year later when she settled her lawsuit against the wealthy entertainer for $3.4 million.
However, after details of the settlement — including the amount she received — were aired in court, Constand decided to tell her story in a memoir out Tuesday called "The Moment.” The book lands amid a stunning turn of events in the case.
Cosby, after spending nearly three years in prison, walked free in June when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction. The court found that Cosby relied on an alleged promise from a district attorney that he would never be charged when he gave incriminating testimony in Constand’s civil lawsuit — only to have it later used against him in two criminal trials.
Prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia must decide this month whether to appeal the decision to the U.S Supreme Court. Cosby recently turned 84.
“Now that I have weathered yet another strange turn in this long saga, I realize that I cannot let reversals like the (Pennsylvania) Supreme Court decision defeat me. Life is unpredictable. Much is beyond our control. In the end, happiness is all that matters and I am determined to live a happy, purposeful life,” Constand writes in a late addition to the book, describing her new work as an advocate for sexual assault victims.
She and Cosby first crossed paths at Temple University in Philadelphia, where Constand, who played professional basketball in Europe, worked for the women’s basketball team and he was a trustee and famed alumnus.
In a deposition, Cosby said he fell in love with Constand the moment he first saw her across the gym. Constand was half his age and dated women.
“I knew who he was, of course, but I had never watched ‘The Cosby Show’ and had no real idea how big a celebrity he was,” she writes.
She took note, though, of the attention he commanded on campus: “His calls had to be returned immediately, his interest in our new locker room was promptly met with an offer to tour the facility.”
She nonetheless found him to be “down-to-earth and affable.”
She recounts the friendship and mentorship that followed, along with what she acknowledges were missed warning signs on her part, when Cosby made advances that his lawyers would later called evidence of an ongoing, consensual relationship.
Their talks included a shared interest in health and holistic medicine, which she said led her to take the pills he offered one night in January 2004, presuming they were herbal products.
She soon found her body going numb.
“My inability to control my own body was utterly terrifying. At six feet, I’m the opposite of petite. ... I had never before, even as a child, felt physically intimidated by anyone or anything. I was an athlete,” she writes. “But now I had no control over my limbs.”
Constand gave steady, unemotional testimony at both his first trial in 2017, which ended in a deadlock, and a second trial in 2018, when the jury convicted Cosby of drugging and violating her.
She refused to be rattled, even under a barrage of hostile questioning from the defense.
And she remained silent outside the courtroom, even as she emerged triumphant on April 26, 2018, when Cosby was convicted and a throng of cameras clicked at her.
But she offers a glimpse of her emotions in describing a secret meeting with jurors after Cosby’s sentencing that fall.
“As we hugged, I heard the same words over and over: ‘We always believed you, Andrea.’ Of course their verdict told me they had come to the conclusion that my testimony was credible. But there was something about hearing the words ... that knocked the wind out of me," she writes.
Constand had never wavered in 2015 when asked to put her life on hold for a potential trial when Cosby's deposition testimony became public after a court fight by The Associated Press. And she agreed to do it again after the initial mistrial. It’s not yet clear if she or prosecutors have the stamina for a third go-round.
Either way, she won’t let a trial verdict define her, especially given the progress she sees in the #MeToo movement.
As she waited for the jury decision in 2018, she writes, “The outcome of the trial seemed strangely unimportant. It was as if the world had again shifted in some much more significant way.”
Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale