Bill Cosby’s sex assault trial on Thursday focused on the drugs he is accused of giving a then-friend before raping her, with a toxicologist saying the pills could have left the comedian’s alleged victim feeling incapacitated or even paralyzed.
Andrea Constand, 45, contends the former star of “The Cosby Show” gave her three little blue pills he said would help her relax and then sexually assaulted her at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004.
Timothy Rohrig, a forensic toxicologist from Wichita, Kansas called as a prosecution witness, testified about the effects of Benadryl and Quaaludes, which Cosby, now 80, in a 2005 deposition said he used to seduce women.
Constand testified last week that after swallowing the pills she experienced double vision, slurred her words, had dry mouth, and her legs felt “rubbery,” even paralyzed.
“All these symptoms she described, and the timing of the symptoms, were consistent with the ingestion of diphenhydramine,” Rohrig said, using the generic name for Benadryl. The drug is commonly used for allergies.
The same symptoms also could have been caused by Quaaludes, which additionally make the user “very sleepy,” he testified. Qaaludes are a sedative.
About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them, sometimes after plying them with drugs or alcohol in a series of alleged attacks dating back decades. Constand’s charge is the only one recent enough to be the subject of criminal prosecution.
Cosby’s defense team, which has portrayed Constand as a money-hungry con artist, aimed to cast doubt on Constand’s claims the pills left her so impaired she could not resist.
Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss suggested that Rohrig failed to include paralysis in his list of symptoms caused by Benadryl.
“That’s not a symptom of Benadryl, is it?” she said.
Rohrig replied that it could be.
A different toxicology expert was expected to testify as a defense witness later on Thursday in the retrial at Montgomery Count Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
The jury in the first trial last year failed to reach a verdict.
Cosby says any sexual contact with Constand was consensual. He could face 10 years in prison if convicted.
Cosby paid Constand $3.38 million to settle a civil lawsuit she filed after Pennsylvania prosecutors in 2005 initially declined to charge Cosby for the alleged assault.
On Wednesday, Cosby’s star defense witness testified that Constand once told her how easy it would be to fabricate an accusation of sexual assault against a celebrity to make money.
Constand has denied knowing that witness.
Writing by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis