Bill Cosby Found Guilty in Sexual Assault Retrial

A jury ruled against Bill Cosby in his sexual assault retrial on Thursday, finding him guilty for aggravated indecent assault in all three counts brought against him by Andrea Constand. The entertainer now faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.

While Cosby showed no visible reaction to the verdict, he did react loudly when District Attorney Kevin Steele called for the entertainer’s bail to be revoked, saying that Cosby had his own plane and could flee.

“He doesn’t have his own plane, you a–hole,” the man once known as “America’s Dad” shouted, provoking gasps in the hushed courtroom.

O”Neill admonished the entertainer, but did not revoke bail.

Cosby, now 80, was found guilty of all three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each count carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is expected later this year -– and it could be a forum for some of the more than 50 other women who have said they were sexually assaulted by Cosby.

Cosby was charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, who was operations manager of the women’s basketball team at Temple University, at his home outside Philadelphia back in January 2004. Cosby contended the sexual contact was consensual.

The jury’s announcement – delivered in a hushed courtroom at 1:45 p.m. – marked the stunning end to the first celebrity trial in the heated atmosphere of the #MeToo movement. The panel of seven men and five women, including two African-Americans, began deliberating on the case on Wednesday morning, and announced the verdict on the 14th day of the retrial.

At a news conference later, Steele said that Constand, by coming forward with her accusation, was a “major factor” in the #MeToo movement, and he said he hoped the verdict would help embolden other victims of sexual assault.

“We hope this case sends a strong message that victims of these types of crimes can come forward and be heard,” said Steele as Constand stood quietly a few feet away.

Steele said Cosby was potentially “facing years in prison,” but he declined to say what type of sentence he would seek. He suggested that he would seek a substantial fine, noting that Cosby’s legal team had described the civil settlement of nearly $3.4 million that Cosby had paid in a lawsuit brought by Constand as a “paltry sum.”

Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women in the past few years, but Constand’s allegations are the only ones that became the subject of a criminal case. The charges against Cosby were filed on Dec. 30, 2015 – just days before the 12-year statute of limitations was due to expire.

The trial drew a number of the other Cosby accusers to the courthouse, and one of them broke down in tears and left the courtroom when the jury forewoman disclosed the guilty verdict.

The charges were first brought to trial last June, but the jury ended in a deadlock on all charges after more than 50 hours of deliberations.

The 80-year-old entertainer was accused by Constand, the former operations manager of the women’s basketball team at Temple University, of drugging and molesting her in January 2004. Constand said she became close with Cosby, who was a major supporter of the university, and viewed him as a mentor. She alleged that he abused her trust, however, when he invited her to his home in Montgomery County and offered her three blue pills to help her relax.

She testified that she took the pills because she trusted Cosby and believed they were some kind of an herbal relaxant, and soon became incapacitated. Then, she said, she felt his fingers inside of her, but “couldn’t fight him off.”

Late Wednesday, jurors asked for a re-reading of Cosby’s deposition in the civil lawsuit brought against him by Constand, who received a settlement of nearly $3.4 million.

In the deposition, Cosby describes the moves he put on Constand on the night in question. Cosby also acknowledged that many years before, he used to give quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

Cosby left the courtroom without comment, and his defense team had nothing to say on the way out of court. His lead defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau, had successfully defended Michael Jackson against child molestation charges in 2005. The team had mounted a strong defense on behalf of the entertainer.

The once-revered entertainer is the only major celebrity to face a jury amid the growing cultural awareness of the problem of sexual assault. In less than a year, dozens of rich and powerful men have been accused of sexual harassment or assault as more women have decided to publicly address the issue.

While Constand had no public reaction to the verdict, her lawyer, Dolores Troiani, thanked the team of law-enforcement officers and prosecutors for taking on such a powerful man. She said that Constand had first filed the complaint against Cosby 14 years ago – and that it had taken all that time for her to obtain justice.

“Although justice was delayed, it was not denied,” said Troiani.

She said it has taken Constand a long time to deal with what had happened to her. “That’s something that she had to work out every day” since January 2004, said Troiani. “This is a life-altering experience for any victim.”

Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents a number of the women who say Cosby sexually assaulted them, said the verdict was a victory for the victims. “After all is said and done, women were finally believed,” said Allred.

Following the guilty verdict, network Bounce TV announced that it was pulling all reruns of “The Cosby Show” from its schedule.

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