NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—Even before she took the stand, Chelan Lasha was in tears. Lasha sat in a chair, positioned behind the table for prosecutors, waiting for her chance to speak. Her soft sobs already were audible. When she took the stand, Lasha’s testimony about the day she says Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her inside a Las Vegas hotel often were punctuated by tears.
Lasha testified on Tuesday, the second day of the criminal trial against Cosby. The criminal charges against Cosby aren’t related to Lasha, but she is one of five women allowed to testify to bolster the prosecution’s case by showing what they argue—that Cosby had a pattern of drugging and sexually assaulting women.
In her testimony, Lasha described her childhood. She was a teenage girl living with her grandparents in Las Vegas and already doing some modeling work when she found out that Cosby had expressed interest in helping her. Prosecutor Stewart Ryan asked Lasha how Cosby’s sudden attention made her feel, and she replied that it made her feel “special.” She paused for a few tears, and then added “special, different.” Lasha choked back tears a few more times, and Ryan asked her if testifying was hard for her. “Yes,” she replied, still crying. “Yes it is. Yes it is.”
Lasha composed herself in a moment, and then she continued describing her interactions with Cosby. Before meeting in person, Cosby called her house and talked to her grandmother. Arrangements were made for Lasha to meet up with Cosby at the Las Vegas Hilton, inside the Elvis Presley suite. Inside the suite, she first had her photos taken by someone that Cosby told her was a photographer. Next someone came in whom Cosby told her was there for stress relief. Lasha had a cold that day and she kept blowing her nose, she testified. So Cosby, Lasha said, offered her two blue pills with a shot of Amaretto. Lasha took them because “I trusted him.” Then he gave her another shot, and she took that one too. He told her the Amaretto would help break up the coating.
From there, Lasha testified that she felt woozy, and Cosby guided her to the bedroom. Cosby guided her to the bed, she explained, and then she could just remember pieces. Lasha recalled Cosby next to her, naked, and “he kept touching my breast and humping my leg.” She remembers more humping and Cosby grunting, a sound she made aloud for the jury, a deep, guttural “grrrrr... grrrrr....” Then, Lasha said, she remembers waking up and Cosby clapping his hands. On the stand. Lasha deepened her voice when she recalled what Cosby said, “Daddy says wake up. Daddy says wake up.”
Ryan asked her what she was thinking during all this. Lasha responded: “Dr. Huxtable, what are you doing? Are you going to help me? What are you doing? ... What are you doing? Why are you doing this to me? You were supposed to help me be successful.” But she couldn’t say anything.
She woke up unclothed. There was money on the table, Lasha said, and Cosby told her it was to buy something for herself and her grandmother. Lasha said she got out of the hotel quickly and felt so embarrassed afterward. She did go see Cosby perform a few days later, she said, because her grandmother wanted to go.
“I was a good girl,” she said. “He took that all away from me. I trusted that man.”
This was supposed to be the end of Lasha’s testimony. It was getting close to lunch time, and Judge Steven O’Neill suggested it was a good time to break for that. O’Neill began giving instructions to the jurors about their lunch break when Lasha, unprompted, spoke out from the stand.
“You remember, don’t you, Mister Cosby.”
Cosby made a slight smile, just for a moment, before returning to the serious face he’s made throughout the trial, his gaze down toward the table or the floor. O’Neill told her politely that she can’t say anything unless it is in response to a question.
“I am so sorry,” she replied.
“But when you are in your hand in front of the jury you may only answer questions,” O’Neill reminded her a second time. He then started to address the lawyers, and while he talked Lasha apologized again, “Yes, sir, my apologies to the court.”
“You don’t need to apologize to me,” O’Neill replied.
Lasha then left the stand, still flush and clutching a tissue. Cosby’s lawyers quickly moved for a mistrial. O’Neill denied it but said he would continue with his vigorous instructions to the jury about what they were to include and not include as evidence and why these witnesses are being called.
Lasha will return to the stand this afternoon to finish her testimony and then undergo cross examination by the defense team. Earlier today, O’Neill agreed to let defense lawyers bring up Lasha’s guilty plea in 2007 for making a false report while questioning her.