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The Bill Cosby trial: What happened and what happens next

June 17, 2017 8:21 PM
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The Bill Cosby trial: What happened and what happens next

A recap of what happened Saturday in the Bill Cosby sex assault case, which ended in a mistrial

Here's a recap of the Bill Cosby sex assault case, which a judge was forced to declare a mistrial Saturday because the jury remained deadlocked after deliberating for 52 hours over six days.

Cosby is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004.

Dozens of other women have accused Cosby, now 79, of molesting them decades ago, and 10 have civil lawsuits pending against him.

Only one was allowed to testify in the Constand case. Cosby has denied all their claims.

Three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault, each covering a different aspect of the alleged crime. Count 1 alleges that Cosby didn't have consent when he penetrated Constand's genitals with his fingers. Count 2 alleges she was unconscious or semi-conscious at the time and could not give consent. Count 3 alleges all this happened after he gave her an intoxicant that substantially impaired her and stopped her from resisting.

Cosby's home is seen in July 2015, in Elkins Park, Pa., outside Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

Judge Steven O'Neill declared a mistrial after the jury of seven women and men — picked 482 kilometres away in the Pittsburgh area and sequestered since the trial began June 5 — announced they were hopelessly deadlocked after 52 hours of deliberations over six days.

The jury started deliberating Monday and first declared itself deadlocked Thursday on the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. But the judge sent them back to try to reach a unanimous verdict.

Neither the judge nor attorneys said they were aware of how the jury split on Cosby's guilt or innocence. The charges against Cosby remain in place.

Judge Steven O'Neill leaves the courtroom following his decision in the Cosby sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Saturday. (Ed Hille/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

After the mistrial, Constand doled out hugs to her mother, prosecutors and some of the other women who say the TV star drugged and abused them. She did not comment publicly. But her lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said that Constand is "a very spiritual person. She believes things happen for a reason."

"She will absolutely come back again," she said. In a written statement, Troiani thanked prosecutors for raising awareness "that one of the hallmarks of drug-related sexual assaults is the effect the drug has on the victim's memory and ability to recall, and were nonetheless willing to present this evidence to the jury.

"We are confident that these proceedings have given a voice to the many victims who felt powerless and silenced."

Andrea Constand exits the courtroom during deliberations at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Friday. (Lucas Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

Kelly Johnson was the only other accuser allowed to testify at Cosby's trial. The prosecution had wanted to put on 13, but in February O'Neill ruled the others couldn't testify on the grounds that it would prejudice the jury against Cosby.

Johnson has accused Cosby of drugging and molesting her at a Los Angeles hotel bungalow in 1996. Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Johnson and many other accusers, said she hoped more can testify at the next trial. Said Allred: "We can never underestimate the blinding power of celebrity, but justice will come."

Some of Cosby's accusers wait to enter the courtroom at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Saturday. (Ed Hille/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Cosby did not comment outside court. Instead, a publicist read a blistering statement from his wife, Camille, who had been in court during one day of the trial but was not at the courthouse Saturday.

In the statement, which Bill Cosby later tweeted, she attacked Judge O'Neill, describing him as "overtly arrogant" and accusing him of "collaborating with the district attorney." She described the prosecutor as "heinously and exploitively ambitious."

From defense attorney Brian McMonagle: "There were no winners here, but like the song goes you don't always get what you want but if you try sometimes ... you get what you need. If the case is retried, know that I will once again put them to the test."

Each of the three counts carries a standard sentence range of five to 10 years in prison.

But experts say that if he had been convicted, it's likely Cosby's attorneys would have been able to successfully argue the charges be combined for sentencing purposes, since they cover the same encounter and conduct.

Under state sentencing guidelines, a conviction would have put Cosby, 79, in prison at least until he was 84.

Pennsylvania law allows sentencing judges to consider uncharged conduct. In Cosby's case, that could have involved the more than 60 other women who have accused him of assaults dating to the 1960s.

Duquesne University law professor Wes Oliver said that if Cosby had been convicted, those allegations could have compelled Judge Steven O'Neill to sentence him closer to 10 years.

If he had been convicted, prosecutors say Cosby would have had to register as a sex offender and face an assessment to determine whether he was a sexually violent predator.

District Attorney Kevin Steele said immediately after the mistrial that he would retry Cosby. He said Constand "is entitled to a verdict in this case and the citizens of Montgomery County, where this crime occurred, are entitled to a verdict in this case. And we will push forward." He said prosecutors felt good about the case, but "there's always tweaks."

Also read: Bill Cosby dumps legal team ahead of sentencing


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