Bill Cosby thanks Keshia Knight Pulliam for support as sex trial begins

Bill Cosby thanks Keshia Knight Pulliam for support as sex trial begins
Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby has thanked his TV daughter Keshia Knight Pulliam for supporting him in court on Monday (05Jun17), as his sex assault trial got underway.

The embattled comedian appeared in Montgomery County Courthouse in Pennsylvania for the first day of his criminal trial, in which he is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania home in 2004.

Cosby, who has pleaded not guilty to the accusations, was accompanied into the courtroom by his The Cosby Show co-star Pulliam, who has previously defended the 79-year-old's character.

During a break in Monday's proceedings, Pulliam told ABC News the whole situation was "heartbreaking", explaining she was in court to hear "the truth" and lend her support to the troubled funnyman because "it's what you do" for friends.

"The man that I've known as a child was funny and witty and smart and philanthropic and full of advice," she said. "I can only go based on who I've experienced, and at the end of the day, it's the court's job to find the truth of the matter."

Pulliam, who portrayed Rudy Huxtable on the hit 1980s sitcom, went on to insist she would accept the verdict returned by the jury at the end of the trial.

Meanwhile, Cosby, who is reportedly legally blind, publicly thanked the actress for her attendance in a post on Twitter.

Alongside a snap of the pair hugging, he wrote, "Thank you to (The Cosby Show characters) Cliff and Claire's 4 year old daughter (Rudy)..."

He then added a series of hashtags, including one which read: "#CameToCourtToHearTheTruth".

Monday's proceedings began with opening statements from Montgomery County assistant district attorney Kristen Feden, who told the jury the case was about "trust, betrayal and the inability to consent", while defence attorney Brian McMonagle called into question Constand's credibility, claiming she initially lied to police about having no contact with Cosby after the alleged 2004 incident, when she reportedly called him 53 times.

The prosecution's first witness, Kelly Johnson, then took the stand and tearfully recalled an alleged encounter she had had with Cosby back in 1996, when she claimed the actor pressured her to take a drug, which caused her to black out. She allegedly awoke with her dress pulled down and her breasts exposed.

The trial is expected to last three to four weeks, but Cosby's lawyers have already made it clear the veteran will not be testifying.

Cosby has always maintained the sex he had with Constand, now 44, was consensual. He was not charged with any crimes at the time, but he did settle a civil suit with her out of court in 2006.

The criminal case was reopened in 2015, after his previously-sealed testimony from the civil proceedings was made public. In the deposition, Cosby confessed to obtaining strong sedatives to hand out to females he wanted to have sex with, although he insisted he didn't use them when he is alleged to have assaulted Constand.

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