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Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial Ends in Mistrial After A Six Minute Defense and No Testimony by Cosby

In 2002 actor Bill Cosby met Andrea Constand at his alma mater, Temple University in Philadelphia, where she was on the staff of the women’s basketball team.  Later, in the beginning of 2004, Cosby invited Constand to his home to discuss her career options. While she was there, Cosby gave her pills to relax her before lying on the couch with her and engaging in sexual acts. At the time Cosby was 66 and Constand was 30.

About a year later Constand told her mother about the incident with Cosby and that it was non-consensual.  They reported the matter to police, who suggest they record Cosby on a phone call.  In the call, Cosby admitted performing “digital penetration” but refused to identify the name of the pills he gave Constand.  The case was then referred to Pennsylvania authorities.

In February 2005 Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor announced he would not  charge Cosby. In describing the case against Cosby as weak, Castor cited the yearlong delay in Constand’s report to her mother, Constand’s continued contact with Cosby after the incident and the fact that other accusers who had also come forward had never filed formal complaints with law enforcement.

In March 2005 Constand civilly sued Cosby for sexual battery and defamation.  During that case Cosby gave four days of deposition testimony about his affairs with young women over 50 years. The case ultimately resulted in a confidential settlement. 

The issue remained dormant until October 2014.  At that time Comedian Hannibal Burress called  Cosby a rapist in a standup act caught on video and shared online. Due to the publicity, many more women came forward alleging they too had been drugged and then sexually assaulted by Cosby.

In December 2014 the Associated Press petitioned to have documents in Constand’s 2005 lawsuit unsealed. Cosby fought the request.  In July 2015 the petition was granted.  The documents included deposition testimony wherein Cosby admitted to giving numerous women pills and alcohol and then having sex with them.

Notwithstanding the previous declination of prosecuting Cosby, in August 2015 Montgomery County authorities reopened the 2005 criminal case, as the 12-year statute of limitations for aggravated sexual assault has not yet run. Cosby subsequently was arrested and then released on $1 million bail.

On June 5, 2017 Cosby’s trial began.  He was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault — penetration without consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant without the subject’s knowledge — all felonies punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Jury selection and the case itself took one week.  The centerpiece of Cosby’s defense was attacking Constand’s credibility during her cross examination by Cosby’s lawyer in the State’s case in chief.  The cross examination highlighted inconsistencies in the version of events Constand gave when she finally reported the incident to the police the following year, and statements she made after her report to police. She said the assault took place in March 2004, after dinner at a restaurant, then said it occurred earlier, unconnected to the restaurant outing; she said the incident occurred the first time she had been alone with Mr. Cosby in his home, then said it was the third time, and that she had rebuffed his sexual advances the first two times; she said she had scant communication with him after the incident, but then acknowledged numerous subsequent contacts.

In its case in chief the defense called a police officer and questioned him for approximately 6 minutes.  The, without calling any other witnesses, including Cosby, the defense rested.

The jury deliberated the entire following week.  On Friday June 16, 2017 a mistrial was declared due to jury deadlock, i.e,. the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict as required for conviction in a criminal case like this.

So, Cosby left his trial having neither been convicted nor acquitted of the charges against him.  The State has said it will re-try him.  According to an article in The New York Times, “Mr. Cosby began this trial presumed innocent and he leaves it that way,” said Brian J. McMonagle, Mr. Cosby’s lead lawyer. “If the case is retried, know that I will once again put them to the test.”

If you’ve been arrested for allegedly committing a crime in Duval, Nassau, Clay or St. John’s Counties, you too are presumed innocent.  If you’d like to maintain this presumption of innocence and have the State be put to the test of demonstrating your guilt beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt, you should retain a capable Jacksonville criminal attorney to give you the best chance of avoiding severe penalties, including in many cases a misdemeanor or felony conviction and substantial jail or prison time, as a result of your arrest.