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Bill Cosby denies drugging sexual assault accuser, says he gave her Benadryl

Bill Cosby arrives at the fifth day of his criminal trial in Pennsylvania. (Lucas Jackson-Pool/Getty Images)

Bill Cosby may have said he gave Benadryl to Andrea Constand, but there’s reason to think the substance wasn’t that benign, prosecutors at his sexual assault trial suggested Friday.

The district attorney in Montgomery County, where Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, revealed pieces of the 2005 civil deposition in which Cosby was asked why he concealed the pills’ identity in a later phone conversation with Constand and her mother, Gianna.

“Why didn’t you just say it was Benadryl?” a questioner had asked Cosby of the one-and-a-half pills he supplied Constand before she claims he assaulted her in January 2004.

The entertainer had answered that it was self-protection, not deceit — he worried how Gianna Constand might use the information against him if he admitted it or sent the pills to her home in Ontario, as she had requested.

“I’m first thinking the mother is coming at me for being a dirty old man, which is bad,” he said in the deposition regarding his conversation with the Constands. “But also: ‘What did you give my daughter?’ I put these things in the mail [to] Canada, what are they going to say if they receive it? What are they going to do if I tell them?”

Cosby said in the deposition that he gave her Benadryl from his own reserve because Constand had complained about stress and neck pain, and he wanted to help her relax.

Constand said the pills Cosby gave her were blue, yet when he voluntarily turned over Benadryl pills to police in January 2005 to demonstrate he kept a cache at hand, they were pink. James Reape, a Montgomery County police officer who investigated the case, said on the stand he “found that to be odd.”

Not brought up to the jury, though, was the subject of Quaaludes, which, in parts of the deposition published several years ago Cosby admitted he used to buy to facilitate sex with women. That detail was considered powerful for the prosecution.

But prosecutors and Cosby’s lawyers spent in-chamber sessions earlier in the week arguing which portions of the deposition would be admissible. The silence on the matter from prosecutors Friday suggests the defense succeeded in getting that information barred.

Neither the prosecution nor its witness said what they specifically thought the drug Cosby gave Constand could be if it weren’t Benadryl.

Meanwhile, in the phone conversation with Gianna Constand, Cosby separately suggested setting up an educational trust for her daughter, who had expressed an interest in graduate school. Prosecutors implied that Cosby was trying to buy her silence.

“Have you ever used this vehicle of an educational trust … as a way of giving money to any other woman with whom you had a relationship?” he was asked in the deposition. He answered that he hadn’t.

The jury on Friday also heard testimony from expert Veronique Valliere about why Constand didn’t come forward for a year after the attack and maintained contact with Cosby, a key piece of the defense’s strategy.

Called by the prosecution, Valliere, an expert on victim response to sexual assault, said that assumptions that a victim would end a relationship with an attacker are false.

“We have expectations that are misguided about how people react to sexual assault [by a non-stranger]” she said. Instead of cutting off all contact with a perpetrator, “the victim often wants to get that relationship right back to where it was nice and comfortable again.”

She also said that reporting the incident to authorities was not necessarily a person’s first response.

“Sometimes victims just want to forget about it, get through it and pretend it didn’t happen for as long as they can.”