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Bill Cosby sexual assault case ends in mistrial after jury deadlocks

17 June 2017 6:22 PM
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Bill Cosby sexual assault case ends in mistrial after jury deadlocks

Bill Cosby arrives at a Norristown, Pennsylvania court where prosecutors are expected to continue using his own words against him at his sexual assault trial, as they appeared close to completing their case.

BILL Cosby’s legal team proclaimed victory outside the Pennsylvania courthouse where a judge declared a mistrial overnight in the disgraced comedians’s sexual assault case.

“[OJ Simpson’s lawyer] Johnnie Cochran is looking down, smiling. … For all those [lawyers] who conspired, like Gloria Allred — tell them to go back to law school,” Cosby publicist Andrew Wyatt boasted just minutes after the case ended.

“Justice is real. It lives here in Montgomery County,” Defense lawyer Brian McMonagle crowed, channelling the Rolling Stones to add, “You don’t always get what you want, sometimes you get what you need.”

According to the New York Post, Cosby stood still, his hands clasped in front of him and his face grim as another member of his team read a statement from his wife, Camille, which slammed the district attorney as “heinously and exploitively ambitious” and Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill as “overtly and arrogantly collaborating with the District Attorney.”

“I am grateful to any of the jurors who tenaciously fought to review the evidence, which is the rightful way to make a sound decision,” she wrote. “Truth can be subdued but not destroyed.”

“This is what happens. Juries are stuck when a prosecutor seeks to put someone in prison for things that are simply not presented in the courtroom,” she said.

Cosby did not testify at trial but spoke publicly late Friday, urging his supporters, a small number of whom were forming an increasingly agitated bloc outside the courthouse, to remain calm.

“I just want to wish all of the fathers a happy Father’s Day, and I want to thank the jury for their long days, and their honest work,” he said Friday night local time. Sunday is Father’s Day in the US.

“I also want to thank the supporters who’ve been here, and please to the supporters, stay calm, do not argue with people, just keep up the great support.”

On the sixth day of deliberations that lasted longer than the actual trial, the jury of seven men and five women were “hopelessly deadlocked,” said O’Neill as he declared the mistrial.

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of slipping them pills and sexually assaulting them. Former Temple University basketball manager Andrea Constand, who accused the comedian of attacking her in 2004, was the only one whose case has gone to trial.

The mistrial was treated as a positive by Cosby’s team, who claimed his “legacy” was restored.

“Mr. Cosby’s power is back,” Wyatt beamed. “The jurors have used their power to speak and Mr. Cosby’s power is back.”

Allred, who represents other Cosby accusers, said, “It’s too early to celebrate, Mr. Cosby. Round two may be just around the corner and this time, justice may prevail.”

It was a stunning development for the 79-year-old pioneering black entertainer who had risked spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted on drugging and molesting a woman at his home 13 years ago.

But 44-year-old Andrea Constand’s alleged assault was the only criminal case brought against him as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

But if the man once adored by millions as “America’s Dad” escaped conviction on Saturday, prosecutor Kevin Steele said that he intended to seek a retrial as authorised in such cases under the law.

They first informed Judge Steven O’Neill on Thursday that they were deadlocked, but were instructed to return to their deliberation room and try harder, without being given a deadline or time frame.

Less than 48 hours later, and working into the weekend on a Saturday — the 11th day of the trial — the panel informed the judge that they were still deadlocked on all three counts against Cosby.

Legal experts had always said the he-said, she-said nature of the case was always going to be difficult to prove in court, not least because it happened so long ago and due to a lack of physical evidence.

The trial has irrevocably damaged his legacy as a towering figure in US popular culture, once adored for his seminal role as a loveable father and obstetrician Cliff Huxtable on hit TV series The Cosby Show.

While the prosecution spent five days, painstakingly trying to build their case, the defence called just one witness to the stand and rested their case in just a handful of minutes.

Cosby had faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a US$25,000 (A$32,000) fine on each of three counts of indecent aggravated assault.

The trial heaped disgrace on the award-winning actor who was lauded a hero by African-Americans and revered by whites for smashing through racial barriers in a five-decade entertainment career.

Cosby attained his greatest fame via the iconic sitcom The Cosby Show, which ran from 1984 to 1992.

One of the most popular television series in history, it jettisoned a man raised by a maid and a US Navy cook into a life of fame and wealth.

But behind the celebrity gloss, the role model and years of educational philanthropy, lurked sinister allegations.

Ms Constand was composed on the stand under a fierce barrage of cross-examination from the defence, which sought to portray their relationship as consensual, and Cosby’s accuser as a liar.

At the time a 30-year-old director of women’s basketball at Temple University, where the actor sat on the board of trustees, she said the assault left her “humiliated” by someone she had thought of as a friend and mentor.

The Canadian said Cosby gave her three pills and wine before touching her breasts, putting his fingers in her vagina and putting her hand on his erect penis after she sought his advice about moving to Canada and switching careers.

After taking the pills, Ms Constand said, she had trouble talking and difficulty moving and was suffering double vision, before briefly losing consciousness.

“In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move, get my legs to move, but I was frozen and those messages didn’t get there,” she said, her voice breaking.

Cosby maintained in his original 2005 deposition that he gave Ms Constand the antihistamine Benadryl to relieve stress and had consensual relations, accusing her of lying. But he also admitted obtaining sedatives with a view to having sex.

Cosby accuser Victoria Valentino vowed to keep up the legal fight, and said society had “failed” Constand.

“We are devastated. Society has failed her, and failed us. The victim was not looking for a hot lay. She is gay. It was not mentioned,” Valentino said.


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