Verdict is in

Jury convicts Bill Cosby at sexual assault retrial

Bill Cosby comes out of the Courthouse after the verdict in the retrial of his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania on April 26, 2018. (DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

A jury in Pennsylvania found disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby guilty of sexual assault on Thursday. The verdict came after jurors spent 14 hours deliberating, according to The Associated Press, and capped a trial that went on for 14 days. The jury convicted the 80-year-old comic and former Cosby Show star of three counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from a 2004 incident at his suburban Philadelphia home in which Andrea Constand said Cosby drugged her and then sexually molested her while she was incapacitated. Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison for each count of sexual assault.

Constand sat quietly in the front row of the courtroom as the clerk read the jury’s verdict, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Several other Cosby accusers were in the back of the courtroom and let out audible sighs of relief when the verdict was read. In another dramatic moment, according to the Inquirer, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele argued that Cosby’s bail should be revoked and he should be taken into custody while he awaits sentencing. Steele argued to Judge Steven T. O’Neill that Cosby is a flight risk because he owns a private plane.

In an outburst, Cosby, referring to himself, disputed the claim, yelling, “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole.” O’Neill then ruled Cosby’s $1 million bail conditions would remain unchanged and ordered him to stay in his home while awaiting sentence, unless he receives approval to leave. News footage showed some of his accusers leaving the courtroom in tears and embracing after the verdict was revealed. Constand was seen leaving the courtroom with her arms around members of her legal team, smiling about the outcome.

The verdict comes nearly a full year after Cosby’s first trial on sexual assault charges ended in a mistrial when jurors were hopelessly deadlocked after 50 hours spent deliberating. Cosby has been accused of various degrees of sexual misconduct dating back decades by more than 60 women. At the retrial, prosecutors called several women to the witness stand who testified that Cosby had sexually abused them in a similar fashion to what Constand had alleged. Among those taking the stand was supermodel Janice Dickinson, who two weeks ago told the jury about an exchange she had decades ago while dining with Cosby and one of his colleagues in Lake Tahoe.

“I drank some red wine,” she told the court. “I started to get menstrual cramps. I put my hand on my stomach and mentioned that … and Cosby said, ‘I have something for that’ and I was given a blue pill.” Dickinson said Cosby took her back to his hotel room and sexually assaulted her there.

“He smelled like cigars and espresso and his body odor,” she said. “I couldn’t move. I felt like I was rendered motionless. Just immobile. I was thinking, ‘What the fuck?’ Sorry. ‘What the heck is he doing?’ I was just in shock. I didn’t consent to this. I hadn’t said ‘Yes.’”

Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand (C) reacts with lawyer Dolores Troiani (R) and Delaney Henderson (L) after the guilty on all counts verdict was delivered in the sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on April 26, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby was found guilty on all accounts after a former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Another accuser, who said Cosby molested her when she was 17 years old, confronted the comedian from the witness stand during her testimony, saying, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?” as she cried.

On the other hand, Cosby’s attorneys depicted Constand, who is now 45, as someone who targeted Cosby because of his fame and wealth. Jurors learned during the trial that Cosby paid Constand $3.4 million to settle a 2006 civil settlement.

Cosby is the first major celebrity to be adjudicated in the wake of the #MeToo phenomenon that has taken hold of American society since the avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein began emerging last October. During the voir dire process, jurors told lawyers they were aware of the #MeToo movement but maintained that they could remain impartial.

“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.” The jury, a panel of seven men and five women, agreed.

As Cosby left the courthouse, his lawyer Tom Mesereau told reporters “the fight is not over” and said he would appeal the verdict.

Read the full story at The Associated Press and The Philadelphia Inquirer.


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