Bill Cosby Convicted of Sexual Assault as Accusers Weep Outside Courthouse
Montgomery County jurors deliberated for about 14 hours over two days before handing down the guilty verdict. Afterward, Cosby was freed on bond by the judge.
Cosby was convicted on three aggravated indecent sexual assault charges, each of which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Cosby assaulted Constand, 45, in his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004. The defense claimed that the sexual contact was consensual. Both sides presented 12 days of testimony and evidence to the seven-man, five-woman jury.
Cosby, who did not testify during his trial, denies similar allegations from more than 60 women.
At trial, prosecutors portrayed Cosby as a serial sexual predator who deceived people with his persona as “America’s Dad,” while his defense said Constand and his many accusers fabricated their accounts.
Constand testified that she took three blue pills and drank wine at Cosby’s request. She passed out, and then woke up to find Cosby sexually assaulting her, The New York Times reports.
“I was kind of jolted awake and felt Mr. Cosby on the couch beside me, behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully, and I felt my breast being touched,” Constand testified, according to the paper. “I was limp, and I could not fight him off.”
After the verdict, previous Cosby accusers wept outside the courthouse.
At a press conference outside the courthouse, Lili Bernard, who has accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 1992, called Constand the “Joan of Ark on the War on Rape.”
“Can you pinch me? I feel like I’m dreaming,” Bernard said.
“I feel like my faith in humanity is restored,” she added, thanking the jury “for positioning themselves on the right side of history.”
During her closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden seemed to scold Cosby, believing that he was laughing, CBS Philadelphia reported.
“There’s nothing funny about it, Mr. Cosby,” Feden said.
Cosby’s attorney Tom Mesereau claimed that Constand wasn’t a credible accuser.
“This woman will say anything. She will absolutely say anything. She is a pathological liar,” he said.
After the verdict, Mesereau said Cosby plans to appeal.
“We are very disappointed by the verdict. We don’t think Mr. Cosby is guilty of anything,” Mesereau said.
It was the second time that a jury has deliberated Cosby’s fate. Last summer, another jury spent six days before they announced they were unable to come to a consensus. Judge Steven T. O’Neill ruled that they were hopelessly deadlocked and declared a mistrial.
A Swift Fall From Grace
More than three years ago, Cosby was in the midst of a career comeback of sorts: He was traveling the country on a comedy tour, exploring a new TV show with NBC and had a Netflix comedy special in the works.
Then on Oct. 16, 2014, comedian Hannibal Buress performed a comedy routine at a Philadelphia nightclub in which he called Cosby a rapist. Philadelphia Magazine posted a video clip and wrote about it on the magazine’s website the next day. The routine went viral on social media.
Barbara Bowman,who was one of a dozen “Jane Does” who came forward to support Constand in 2005 and told her story to PEOPLE magazine in November 2006, once again surfaced and did interviews with CNN and The Washington Post. Soon, other women began coming forward as well.
Within weeks, Cosby’s Netflix deal was on hold, his NBC show was killed, several future dates on his comedy tour were canceled and TVLand pulled re-runs of The Cosby Show.
In July 2015, Cosby’s deposition in the civil suit he settled against Constand in 2006, in which he admitted to giving women he wanted to have sex with Quaaludes, became public. Subsequently, Montgomery County prosecutors quietly went to Dolores Troiani, one of Constand’s attorneys, to see if she’d cooperate if they reopened her case.
Kevin Steele, who was the county’s First Assistant District Attorney at the time, came to Troiani’s office and said “they were going to reopen the investigation provided my client was willing to cooperate,” Troiani testified at a hearing on the case in February 2016. He asked “if my client had the stamina to do this again.”
Steele was running for District Attorney of Montgomery County that year and released a television ad criticizing his opponent, Bruce L. Castor, Jr., for deciding not to prosecute Cosby in 2005. Steele won the election — and on December 30 of 2015, Cosby was arrested and charged with Constand’s alleged sexual assault.