Guilty Verdict Reached in Bill Cosby Trial
NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The jury in Bill Cosby’s retrial found the TV icon guilty of all three counts of aggravated indecent assault on Thursday for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004.
The 80-year-old comedian faces up to 10 years in prison on each count, but is likely to serve them concurrently. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled, and he remains out on bail.
Cosby did not have an audible reaction to his conviction, but erupted shortly afterward. Minutes after the verdict, prosecutors asked the judge to revoke Cosby’s bail because they say he is a flight risk and has a private plane.
Cosby, who did not testify in the trial and has sat quietly throughout the proceedings, then stood up and yelled in a loud, booming voice: “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole.”
Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that Cosby should not leave his Pennsylvania home, and that he would need to be fitted with a GPS tracking device.
The case was the first celebrity sexual assault trial since the #MeToo movement began last fall, and as such, represented a test of how the cultural movement translates into a courtroom arena.
What the case was about
The case against Cosby centered on testimony from Constand, a former employee with Temple University women’s basketball team. She testified that Cosby, a powerful trustee at Temple, drugged her and sexually assaulted her when she visited his home to ask for career advice 14 years ago.
The trial bore all the bearings of a classic “he said, she said” so common to sexual assault trials. Prosecutors had little forensic evidence and relied on the testimony of Constand. In addition, five other women testified that Cosby had drugged and then assaulted them decades ago as prosecutors sought to prove Cosby’s actions toward Constand were part of a pattern.
Cosby’s defense team launched aggressive attacks on Constand’s credibility and said that their sexual interaction was consensual. Constand was a “con artist,” they argued, who wanted a piece of Cosby’s fortune.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Kathleen Bliss positioned Cosby’s legal team as standing up against “witch hunts, lynchings (and) McCarthyism.”
After the trial concluded, Constand left through a side door in the courtroom, walking into a hallway with her arms around two women and a huge smile on her face.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents many of the women who have accused Cosby of misconduct, said this was the happiest she had been with a verdict in 42 years.
“We are so happy that finally we can say, women are believed. And not only on #MeToo but in a court of law where they are under oath, where they testified truthfully, where they are attacked,” Allred said. “After all is said and done, women were finally believed.”
Cosby’s attorney, Tom Mesereau, said he plans to appeal “very strongly.”
“We are very disappointed by the verdict. We don’t think Mr. Cosby’s guilty of anything and the fight is not over,” he said.
How we got here
The guilty verdict is a remarkable turn of events for the man once known as “America’s Dad.” Cosby was a groundbreaking actor and the first African-American performer to win an Emmy for his role on “I Spy.” His portrayal of the sweater-loving Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” was one of the first mainstream TV shows to feature a black upper-middle class family.
Although dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, only Constand’s allegations resulted in criminal charges.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Lili Bernard, who has accused Cosby of assault, said afterward. “I feel like my faith in humanity is restored.”
The verdict came a year after Cosby’s previous trial ended in a mistrial, as a different panel of jurors said they were deadlocked and could not unanimously agree on a verdict. This jury began deliberating Wednesday around 11 a.m., and worked for more than 14 hours over two days to reach the verdict.
At the retrial, five other Cosby accusers testified as “prior bad acts” witnesses and said that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them decades ago.
Constand initially told police about the assault in 2005, a year after the assault occurred. Prosecutors in Montgomery County at the time decided not to file charges in the case, and Constand and Cosby settled a civil lawsuit for $3.38 million in 2006.
But in late 2015, as a groundswell of women spoke out with accusations against Cosby, a new prosecutor in Montgomery County filed charges.