Bill Cosby sexual assault trial ends in mistrial

June 17, 2017

After more than four days of days of deliberations, a Norristown, PA, jury Saturday failed to reach a verdict in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial, resulting in a mistrial.


The district attorney has already declared Cosby will be re-tried.

Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually violating Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.  Constand, who was then an employee of Temple University, Cosby's alma mater, claims the comic gave her drugs that incapacitated her to the degree that she could not stop him from assaulting her. 


After a brief criminal investigation that was ended due to lack of evidence, Constand sued Cosby in 2005; the case was settled the following year for an undisclosed sum.  Cosby testified under oath in the suit, but that testimony was sealed as part of a mutual nondisclosure agreement until July 2015, when Constand petitioned the court to unseal the testimony.  She claimed Cosby's then-recent responses to similar drugging and/or assault allegations by other women broke the nondisclosure agreement.  A federal court unsealed the testimony.


Cosby's 2005 testimony included his admission that he had drugged and had sexual contact with Constand, but he claimed the sex was consensual and the drug he gave her was Benadryl.  Cosby also admitted that in the past, he'd obtained Quaaludes, a sedative, for the purpose of giving them to women in order to have sex with them.


Citing the unsealed deposition's contents as new evidence, the Montgomery County, PA, district attorney's office re-opened its criminal investigation into Constand's accusations in 2015, just months before the statue of limitations for criminal charges was due to expire in January, 2016. Cosby was charged in December, 2015, with a judge deciding in May, 2016 that there was sufficient cause to proceed to trial. 


Testimony began June 5, 2017 and ended June 12, the same day the jury got the case.  Constand testified and was grilled by Cosby's defense over alleged inconsistencies in her story over the years.  Also testifying was Kelly Johnson, who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 1996, which the prosecution hoped would show a pattern of behavior by Cosby.  Cosby did not testify during the trial, though the prosecution made his 2005 deposition testimony central to their case.


Cosby was charged with three felony counts related to the Constand case, each of which carries a sentence of from five to ten years in prison.  However, Pennsylvania law allows the judge to order the sentences to be served concurrently, meaning Cosby could serve from five to ten years in prison.

Sixty women, including Constand, have accused Cosby of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them, or attempting to do so.  Cosby has denied all of the charges, and has only been criminally charged in the Constand case.

Regardless of the trial outcome, the accusations and trial marked a spectacular fall from grace for the 79-year-old comic, entertainer and philanthropist, who was beloved by millions for his role as the wise patriarch of the Huxtable family on the classic 1980-1990s sitcom The Cosby Show, which earned him the fond title of "TV's Favorite Dad." 


Cosby also starred as the erudite, accomplished Alexander Scott in the 1960s action-comedy TV series I Spy, making him the first black actor to play a lead role on an American TV drama.  Both roles helped dismantle stereotypes and break down barriers for African-Americans in entertainment.

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