In a dramatic turn of events, the jury in the aggravated indecent assault trial of comedian and television patriarch Bill Cosby has hung. The jurors told the judge they are deadlocked and unable to come to a verdict unanimously on any count.
On June 17, the judge formally declared a mistrial in the case. Prosecutors can choose to retry Cosby but have not said whether they will do so.
The mistrial came after six days of deliberations and after the judge repeatedly ordered the deadlocked Cosby jurors to try deliberating again. On June 17, the jurors, one-by-one, declared that they were “hopelessly deadlocked.”
However, in a press conference after the mistrial was declared, the District Attorney announced that he will retry Cosby. Cosby’s wife, Camille, released a harshly worded statement trashing the judge, media and prosecutors.
Cosby, 79, has been hit with a string of sexual assault and drugging allegations from at least 40 women, but Andrea Constand’s accusations were the only to go to trial. The defense attorney branded the accusations a lie but never called Cosby to the witness stand.
The case revolved around whether Constand consented to sexual contact with Cosby since the comedian admitted giving her drugs and having sexual contact with her in a past deposition that the jury asked to scrutinize. Cosby was facing a sentence that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Cosby had faced three charges, according to NBC Philadelphia: “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.”
One Cosby accuser came out to face the media after news of the deadlock:
The jury had questions about count 3 at one point during days of deliberations:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Jury Entered Deliberations the Night of June 12 & Was Composed of More Men Than Women
The Cosby jury was composed of seven men and five women, and they went into deliberations on the early evening of June 12. Racial bias allegations were raised during jury selection; in the end, only two African-Americans ended up seated on the 12-person jury.
The trial spanned six days. According to Page Six, Cosby “hung his head or held his face in his hand” during the prosecutor’s closing arguments on the final day of the trial.
The allegations dated back to 2004, when Constand says that she passed out after taking three blue Benadryl pills that Cosby called “three friends,” and “awoke to Cosby fondling her,” reported Page Six.
The jury deliberated for four hours on June 12 before asking to stop for the night. “They emerged once during their early talks, asking to see a section to Cosby’s deposition in which he described giving pills to Constand on the 2004 night she says he drugged and sexually assaulted her, and later for more evidence,” reported Philly.com. That deposition came in Constand’s earlier civil suit against Cosby, which she filed after a previous prosecutor declined to charge the comedian with a crime.
Deliberations resumed at 9 a.m. on June 13. “This is a very conscientious jury,” the judge said. “This is a hard working jury that’s abiding by its oath in this case.” The jury again asked to see previous statements – this time by Constand. “Jurors wanted the testimony of Detective Dave Mason read back to them Tuesday,” the AP reported. “Mason testified… that Constand told him Cosby gave her pills that made her feel woozy. Constand told police she was semi-conscious as he touched her breast and genitals.” Cosby’s lawyers have argued there are discrepancies in the various accounts Constand has given over the years, but the prosecution has said any are inconsequential and small.
In the earlier deposition given after Constand sued Cosby in 2005, Cosby said he gave Constand Benadryl to “relax” her during what he described as a consensual sexual encounter, ABC News reported. According to AP, one excerpt quotes Cosby as saying about reaching into Constand’s pants, “I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
“I wanted her to be comfortable and relaxed and be able to go to sleep after our necking session,” he said in the deposition, according to ABC News.
In the depositions, Cosby said that he “developed a romantic interest in Constand the very first time he saw her at the Temple basketball game and that he found her good looking,” according to a probable cause affidavit in the case. He developed a friendship with her first.
Cosby admitted getting pills and said he “offered them” to Constand, the court document alleges. He allegedly described them as “three friends” to make her relax. He said he gave her the pills because “they might help take some of the stress way,” the document contends.
That part of the deposition comes on page 9 of this document:
In a question to the judge, the jury asked, “Can we see the part in Mr. Cosby’s testimony where he called the pills ‘his friends?’ We need to see the whole context.”
He also admitted fondling her. In the 2005 deposition he also acknowledged that he had, in the past “obtained seven prescriptions in his own name for Quaaludes that he never took” and didn’t intend to take himself.
He said “yes” when asked “was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” the court documents allege.
According to the Pennsylvania Crimes of Sexual Violence benchbook, “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that an intoxicated victim who was intermittently unconscious throughout the sexual assault and in an impaired physical and mental condition was unable to knowingly consent, and therefore her submission to sexual intercourse was involuntary.”
2. Cosby Didn’t Testify & the Defense Called Only One Witness
The defense did not rely on the testimony of Bill Cosby himself; the one man in a position to definitively refute the accusations exercised his right to not take the witness stand.
Some legal experts defended this decision; Cosby would have been a risky witness to put on the stand because of his age and health, not to mention his past statements in depositions. Calling character witnesses could have opened the door for the prosecution to tell the jury about accusations from other women.
Instead, the defense deployed what is a common strategy in sexual assault cases: Attacking the accuser’s story.
Cosby’s defense attorney Brian McMonagle said the accuser in the case, Andrea Constand, “had too many inconsistencies in her story to be a reliable witness,” according to CNN. “This ain’t right!” McMonagle said, branding the accusations a lie driven by greed, according to The Washington Post.
The defense attorney pointed out that Constand had first come forward to police in 2005, but another district attorney opted not to charge the case, CNN reported.
The defense presentation lasted only six minutes, according to The Post. The defense attorney called just one witness, the detective who spearheaded the case and also testified for the prosecution, reported Fox News. The defense strategy was to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
The defense did have a surprise witness up their sleeve. However, they weren’t allowed to call her because of hearsay rules.
In a dramatic moment outside the courtroom, while the jury was already deliberating, the defense team released a statement from a witness, Marguerite Jackson, whom it was not allowed to call. She claimed Constand told her she was going to make up allegations against a high-profile person:
Constand told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she had never met Jackson and the Inquirer reported that the judge had blocked her testimony.
However, in addition to the depositions, the jury heard Cosby’s side through statements he gave to the police previously.
In a statement to police, Cosby admitted giving the victim Benadryl, the probable cause affidavit contends. He said that after she took the pills, they began touching and kissing and she “never told him to stop, never pushed him away, never told him her vision was blurred and never said she felt paralyzed or affected by the Benadryl.”
He alleged there were other instances where they “petted and kissed.”
The defense attorney “described his client as a philandering husband, but an overly forthcoming one whose own statements about Constand have remained entirely consistent over 12 years — no matter how damaging,” reported Philly.com.
You can read the Cosby deposition here:
Learn more about Marguerite Jackson:
3. The Prosecution Painted Bill Cosby as a Calculating Predator
Prosecutors called 12 witnesses during their side of the case, according to The Washington Post. “He assaulted her. Drugging somebody and putting them in position is not romantic, it’s criminal,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
Steele attempted to strip lingering sympathy away from Cosby in a closing argument that “described Cosby as a calculating sexual predator who not only drugged and assaulted Constand more than a decade ago but also cruelly recast the attack as consensual and romantic,” reported ABC News.
“To allege that this is just some relations that is going to another level just doesn’t make sense,” Steele said. “If you have sexual relations with somebody when they’re out, when they’re asleep, when they’re unconscious, that’s a crime… By doing what he did on that night, he took away that ability, he took that from Andrea Constand. He gave her no choice in this matter.”
The prosecutor “reminded jurors about a telephone conversation in which Cosby apologized to Constand’s mother and described himself as a ‘sick man,'” reported Fox News.
4. Camille Cosby Made an Appearance in Court for Closing Arguments
Camille Cosby, the comedian’s wife, was absent for most of the trial, but she did show up in the courtroom on the final day.
Camille, who has been married to Cosby for 53 years, stayed in court for the defense team’s closing arguments but left before the prosecutor started giving his version of events, reported Page Six.
The defense attorney even pointed toward Camille Cosby several times during his closing argument, reported Fox News.
5. Andrea Constand Testified Emotionally for Hours That Cosby Drugged & Raped Her
In contrast to Cosby, who never took the stand, Constand, 44, testified for seven hours. According to ABC News, she testified that Bill Cosby “gave her a drug at his home in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 2014. The drug rendered her unable to stop his assault.”
“In my head I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, but I was frozen, and those messages didn’t get there, and I was very limp, so I wasn’t able to fight him,” she said, according to ABC News. “I wanted it to stop.”
According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, Constand was employed as the director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team when she was introduced to Bill Cosby after he contacted her office “to discuss business-related matters.”
They exchanged personal phone numbers and developed what she “believed to be a sincere friendship.”
She considered Cosby, who was 37 years older, “to be a mentor” and said he invited her to his home for dinner, to restaurants, events, made introductions for her and gave her career advice.
Constand said she “had no interest whatsoever in a romantic relationship with Cosby” but alleged he made sexual advances towards her twice before the alleged assault.
The first incident occurred after he invited her to his home for dinner, and “without warning, Cosby reached over and touched her pants, her waist, and her inner thigh.” She left, the documents contend.
On another occasion, she went “for a social visit” to Cosby’s home when “out of the blue” he unbuttoned her pants and began touching her. She left again, rejecting his advances, according to the court documents.
Constand continued acting his invitations.
In the incident in question, she said that Cosby invited her to his home to “talked about” her future career plans.” She said she felt “drained” and “emotionally occupied” and had been missing sleep so Cosby said he wanted her to relax. He had three blue pulls in his hand and urged her to take them. He then urged her to “just taste the wine,” the documents say.
She experienced blurred vision and difficulty speaking, including losing all strength in her legs, which felt like jelly.
Cosby fondled her, the documents say. She said she did not consent and described her condition as frozen and paralyzed. She awoke in Cosby’s home at 4 a.m. the next morning. Her sweater was bunched up and her bra undone and had been moved above her breasts. She got up and walked toward the door. Cosby gave her a muffin and said, “alright” and she left, the documents say.
The court documents say that Constand was deeply affected by what occurred.
She had nightmares and would scream in her sleep. She told her mother that Cosby had sexually assaulted her. Constand’s mother called and asked Cosby what he had given her daughter, and he allegedly said he would “have to look at the prescription bottle,” the court documents say.
He apologized, offered to pay for therapy, and admitted fondling Constand, the documents allege.
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