Judge Declares Mistrial in Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial
A Pennsylvania judge has declared a mistrial after a jury failed to reach a verdict in the trial of comedian Bill Cosby, who is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman more than 13 years ago. He will now face a retrial.
Jurors returned to court on Saturday after more than 50 hours of deliberations, telling the judge that they remained “hopelessly deadlocked” on all counts with no expectation that a verdict could be reached by further deliberations.
Judge Steven O’Neill then moved to declare a mistrial while noting that a mistrial is neither a vindication nor a victory. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said his office would retry the case. A new trial date has not yet been set.
Cosby stood outside the courtroom as his lawyers welcomed the mistrial, but the actor himself did not comment on the news. He had addressed reporters on Friday night to thank the jury for their work and his fans for supporting him.
“I want to thank the jury for their long days, their honest work,” Cosby said. “I also want to thank these supporters who’ve been here and, please, to the supporters: Stay calm, do not argue with people, just keep up the great support.”
In a written statement, Cosby’s wife Camille attacked the district attorney and the news media for their handling of the sexual assault allegations, which brought down one of America’s most popular figures.
“How do I describe the District Attorney? Heinously and exploitively ambitious,” Camille said. “How do I describe the judge? Overtly and arrogantly collaborating with the District Attorney. How do I describe the counsels for the accusers? Totally unethical.”
Camille continued: “How do I describe many, but not all, general media? Blatantly vicious entities that continually disseminated intentional omissions of truths for the primary purpose of greedily selling sensationalism at the expense of a human life.”
Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents a number of women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, expressed hope that a retrial will result in a conviction. “We can never underestimate the blinding power of celebrity but justice will come,” she said.
The accuser in the case is Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who was a guest at Cosby’s house in Cheltenham Township on an evening in January 2004. During the course of the evening, Cosby allegedly provided Constand with wine, water and three blue pills, which she ingested at Cosby’s urging.
Constand alleges she then became incapacitated and was led to a couch, where Cosby is alleged to have fondled her breasts, put his hands inside her pants, and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. During the assault, Cosby is also accused of putting the woman’s hand on his erect penis.
Within a few months of the alleged assault, Constand moved back to her native Canada where she lived with her mother. She did not disclose what happened until January 2005, when Constand and her mother reported the incident to authorities. A subsequent investigation found insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against Cosby.
Constand eventually filed a civil lawsuit that was settled in 2006 for undisclosed terms.
Charges were filed in December 2015 after a number of women came forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, and testimony emerged in which Cosby said he got quaaludes (methaqualone) in the 1970s for women he wanted to have sex with. At the time, the sleeping pill was a popular party drug and it was not illegal, but many saw the statement as an admission to support the accusations.
Despite dozens of women going public with accusations of sexual assault, Constand’s case was the only one to result in criminal charges, although a number of civil lawsuits are still pending. Prosecutors in Los Angels examined two of the allegations but declined to pursue charges, citing in one case the statute of limitations and in another case a lack of evidence.