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District Attorney Vows to Bring Bill Cosby to Justice After Mistrial

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele vowed on Saturday to bring Bill Cosby to justice after a deadlocked jury failed to convict the comedian on charges of drugging and molesting a woman at his home in 2004.

“We have made the determination of moving forward, and it lies in the fact she deserves a verdict in this this case … and we will push forward to try and get justice done,” said Steele during a press conference after the judge declared a mistrial. “We hope that moving forward in this case sends a strong message that victims of these types of crimes can come forward and can be heard on what has happened to them.”

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.

“The Cosby Show” star 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.

“Our case is focused on the victim,” Steel continued. “Our case is focused on the evidence that we have to corroborate what she has indicated. That’s where we started and that’s where we finish.”

Steven Fairlie, a criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania who has been tracking the case, says that the advantage on retrial goes to the defense.

“It doesn’t mean they will win, but they have much better odds in a retrial,” he told Variety. “They didn’t put a single defense witness on. They only called one prosecution witness. They can choose a different strategy in the next trial and the D.A. won’t know what’s coming.”

“Conversely, Andrea Constand had not yet gone on record before she took the stand in the first trial. Now they have a full record that there investigators can go out and use to obtain impeachment material. Then the defense attorneys can plan out a more effective cross-examination,” Fairlie continued.

He noted that another advantage is that the defense has an opportunity to adjust how it does its cross examination. “Everyone I spoke with who observed the cross-examination felt that Cosby staffed it with the wrong lawyer,” Fairlie claimed. “They can fix that by having Brian McMonagle handle the cross-examination in the next trial. Again, it might not be enough, but unquestionably the defense has a better chance of achieving a ‘not guilty’ in the second trial than it had in the first trial.”

Minutes after the mistrial was announced, Steele confirmed Constand will again cooperate as a witness during the eventual retrial.

But Barbara Ashcroft, associate professor of law at Temple University, said that even though Steele has said that he plans to pursue a new trial, and Constand has again agreed to testify, that can change.

“Victims change their minds as things settle in,” she said. Steele “pulled the trigger on this today and said, ‘We are going to try Bill Cosby again.’ He also said that Andrea Constand will take the stand again. They put all that out there today. That doesn’t mean it comes to fruition.”
Ashcroft is a former sex crimes prosecutor, and said that for victims, “sometimes after they have gone through this, they decide they don’t want to again. It is very difficult for a victim to go through it for the first time, much less go through it for the second time.”
She also does not see the judge changing his decision on the admission of any additional “prior bad actor witnesses.” He allowed only one other accuser. The exception would be if more women come forward.
“At Steele’s press conference, he did invite other individuals and said we want your voice to be heard. He said that if there is anyone out there, ‘we welcome you to come talk to us.'”
If there is a new witness, the prosecution could then do a new motion on the argument that they have gathered new evidence.
Ashcroft, too, believes that the defense would head into a new trial with an advantage.
McGonigle “knows the commonwealths case now. He will be able to get transcripts of all of the testimony,” she said. “If anyone crosses any line in any direction, he will be able to use the transcript from any trial to impeach witnesses. For all those reasons, he will be prepared.”
Ted Johnson contributed to this report.

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