NORRISTOWN, Pa. – More than two years after his spectacular fall from grace amid dozens of sexual assault accusations, the case that accused Bill Cosby of drugging and molesting a woman at his home outside Philadelphia in early 2004 was ruled a mistrial by the judge on Saturday morning.
The jury could not come to a decision regarding alleged victim Andrea Constand, who was then manager of the women’s basketball team at Temple University – where Cosby was a major booster and member of the board of trustees.
Judge Steven O’Neill said on Saturday morning that the note from jury “indicates that we the jury are deadlocked on all counts.” Cosby, 79, looked subdued and almost dazed as the judge made the announcement after almost of week of deliberations in suburban Philadelphia. He remained seated in his courtroom chair for a few minutes, and looked down for a bit. He said nothing as he emerged from the courtroom, but raised an arm as if in victory.
Minutes after the mistrial was announced, the Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele announced they will retry the case.
In the courtroom moments earlier, O’Neill thanked jurors for “courageous acts” and deliberating about 52 hours. “I feel bad for all of you,” he told jurors. “I will forever hold you dear in my heart and be grateful for what you have done for the justice system.”
Ahead of the verdict Andrew Wyatt, a publicist for Cosby, said the entertainer was in good spirits. “He’s just waiting like everyone else and looking forward to a positive outcome,” Wyatt said.
Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, all focusing on the alleged assault of Constand, 44, now a massage therapist in Canada. The criminal complaint was filed in December 2015, just days before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations was due to expire.
The legendary entertainer had an endearing reputation as “America’s Dad” from his years as the lovable Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” He faced up to 10 years on each of the three counts.
Constand is just one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of giving them pills and then sexually assaulting them, but she is the only woman whose alleged assault became the focus of criminal charges.
Even though he won fame and an enduring reputation from “The Cosby Show,” which aired from 1984 to 1992, his image tanked in 2014 as the women – as many as 60 in all — went public with accusations that Cosby assaulted them.
The mistrial was announced after spirited closing arguments in which he was alternately portrayed as a predator who used drugs to have a sexual liaison with Constand, and as a man who had been framed by women – including Constand – who figured they could reap monetary settlements from the iconic entertainer.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told the jury that Cosby gave Constand drugs that night that had rendered her incapacitated and unable to fight off the celebrity.
In a fiery summation, defense attorney Brian McMonagle charged that Cosby became the focus of the case because he was an easy mark for scores of women who thought they could get money out of him.
The alleged assault that sparked the charges took place in early 2004 after Cosby invited Constand to his home in Elkins Park, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, to discuss her career plans. Constand testified that she was planning to leave her job at Temple University and embark on a new career path and had been feeling stressed.
She said that Cosby brought her three blue pills, saying they would help her relax and assuring her they were safe. Reluctantly, she said, she took the pills because she trusted him as a friend and mentor, but soon, she felt woozy and had blurry vision. She testified the entertainer led her to a couch and she quickly became incapacitated as Cosby groped her breasts, inserted his finger in her, and put her hand on his penis.
“I was frozen,” she told the jury of seven men and five women last week. “I wanted it to stop.”
Defense attorney Angela Agrusa, in a painstaking cross-examination, sought to portray Constand as a woman who had changed her story and should not be believed.
For the last week, the plaza outside the courthouse in this economically challenged county seat has been the staging area for media organizations from around the nation, and more than 100 journalists have been covering the trial and scores of members of the public, including some of the women who have accused Cosby of assaulting them, have attended.
Cosby, who has been described as legally blind, has been supported by longtime friends and a few actors, including Keisha Knight Pulliam, who played Cosby’s TV daughter, Rudy, on The Cosby Show, which remained popular as the show continued to be shown as reruns long after the TV series ended in 1992. His wife, Camille, attended for the first time on Monday.