NORRISTOWN, Pa. - Prosecutors found themselves back to square one Saturday after the jury in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case declared itself hopelessly deadlocked, resulting in a mistrial for the 79-year-old TV star facing accusations he first drugged then molested a woman more than a decade ago.
Cosby’s team declared victory, however temporary, as the comedian and actor once known as “America’s Dad” for his TV role as paternal Dr. Cliff Huxtable avoided a conviction on Father’s Day weekend.
Excoriated by the defense for charging Cosby in the first place, District Attorney Kevin Steele vowed to put him on trial a second time, saying accuser Andrea Constand supported the decision.
“She has shown such courage through this, and we are in awe of what she has done,” Steele said. “She’s entitled to a verdict in this case.”
By sowing doubt among one or more jurors, Cosby’s lawyers managed to overcome two years of unrelenting bad publicity for their client after the public release of his damaging testimony about drugs and sex, as well as a barrage of accusations from 60 women who came forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
Constand’s 2004 encounter with Cosby at his suburban Philadelphia estate was the only one to result in criminal charges.
She told jurors that Cosby gave her pills that made her woozy and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay paralyzed on a couch, unable to tell him to stop.
“She’s ready to go again,” said her lawyer, Dolores Troiani, of a retrial. “She’s a very spiritual woman, she believes things happen for a purpose, and I think the purpose is ... it should encourage other women to come forward and have their day in court.”
Troiani acknowledged the difficulty of the case, given the passage of time and the impact of the alleged drugging on Constand’s ability to recall details.
The jury deliberated more than 52 hours over six days before telling a judge they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on any of the three counts against the comedian, ending the trial without a verdict.
Cosby’s team immediately went on the attack. The entertainer’s wife of 53 years, Camille, slammed prosecutors for bringing the case to court, calling Steele “heinously and exploitively ambitious” in a statement released after the trial. She also criticized the judge, the accuser’s lawyers and the media.