Bill Cosby has been found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
Judge Steven T O’Neill repeatedly called for order as the court erupted as the jury delivered its shock verdict, unanimously finding Cosby guilty on all three counts of aggravated sexual assault: administering an intoxicant, rendering his victim unconscious and penetrating her without consent.
The seven men and five women reached their verdict after 14 hours of deliberation and a trial lasting 14 days.
Constand was in court to hear the verdict read at Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The alternate jurors filed into the back of the gallery.
O’Neill requested everyone to respect the decorum order that has been in place throughout the trial and to keep order as the verdict was delivered.
The 80-year-old actor now faces spending the rest of his life in prison as each count carries a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment.
Bill Cosby has been found guilty of drugging and raping Andrea Constand in his home in 2004
Cosby accuser Lili Bernard let out a sob as the foreperson delivered the guilty verdict on each charge.
O’Neill thanked the jury for their service, ‘for removing themselves from their families and lives.’ He told them ‘you have sacrificed much for you country and justice.’
Cosby did not react to the verdict, but instead sat sat in silence with his eyes cast down. His wife was not in court.
Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesperson who has spoken so vehemently in the disgraced actor’s defense throughout the trial, sat in stunned silence, leaning forward in his seat with his face a mask of misery.
O’Neill discharged the jury at 1.55pm.
The verdict is a devastating blow to Cosby’s lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau – the man famous for securing Michael Jackson’s acquittal in 2005.
But it is vindication for Constand, the five other accusers who testified in this case and the more than 60 others who claim to have been assaulted by Cosby over the years.
It is a career-saving victory for Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele who rode to election on his promise to bring Cosby to justice.
Last June jurors failed to reach a verdict after hearing Constand’s testimony that she lost consciousness after taking three little blue pills from Cosby who told her they were ‘her friends’ and would help her relax.
She claimed Cosby then digitally penetrated her and assaulted her while she was immobile and ‘could not fight him off.’
After close to 53 hours of deliberation they remained ‘hopelessly deadlocked’ and O’Neill was forced to declare a mistrial.
Back then Steele vowed to re-try the case and promised that the re-trial would not be a re-run of the first.
Bill Cosby walks into Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, for the second day of jury deliberations in his sexual assault retrial
Exhausted jurors ended day one of its considerations after rehearing excerpts from Cosby’s old deposition evidence
Cosby stands accused on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and each charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years
Cosby, pictured with spokesman Andrew Wyatt, is accused of drugging and raping Andrea Constand in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004
And at the beginning this seemed to be true of both the prosecution and the defense.
For a start there actually was a defense. Cosby’s previous defense led by Brian McMonagle, assisted by Angela Agrusa lasted just six minutes.
McMonagle painted Constand as a bitter ex-lover out to punish Cosby when their affair went south.
‘It’s a relationship,’ he bellowed in his closing statement as he urged the jury to ‘end this madness’.
This time Cosby had switched out McMonagle and Agrusa for a superannuated team led by Los Angeles attorney Thomas Mesereau, famous for getting Michael Jackson acquitted in 2005.
Joined by co-counsel Kathleen Bliss, Becky James, Lane Vines and associates Rachael Robinson, Jaya Gupta and Jason Hicks their sheer numbers made them a formidable presence.
According to Mesereau, a striking courtroom figure with his mop of snow-white hair, honeyed voice and hand-tailored suits, this case was all about ‘money, money and lots more money’.
Constand was a manipulative ‘con-artist’ out to extort a lonely old man.
He even had a witness – Marguerite Margo Jackson previously excluded on the grounds that Constand had claimed not to know her – who would tell the jury that Constand once shared an idea to falsely claim that a celebrity had assaulted her for the sole purpose of bringing a lucrative lawsuit.
That was always her plan according to the defense. And when she brought a civil suit and settled for $3.4 million in 2006, Mesereau crowed, ‘She pulled it off’.
He said the prosecution’s attempt to depict Constand as ‘some innocent babe in the woods’ who naively took drugs from Cosby that night was ludicrous.
According to Mesereau she was a woman whose dreams fame and fortune had fallen flat. A career in sports broadcasting had come to nothing.
Andrea Constand was in court on Wednesday (pictured above) as the jury started its deliberations
Cosby appeared positive as he walked into court on Wednesday morning ahead of the verdict. At one point he pointed to the sky
Cosby did not react to the verdict, but instead sat sat in silence with his eyes cast down. He’s pictured above before jury deliberations on Wednesday morning
She was a misfit with a history of drug issues and financial problems, who stiffed former roommates on credit card and utility bills and once ran a pyramid scheme with her then close friend Sheri Williams.
The prosecution team was the same – Steele, deputy District Attorney M Stewart Ryan and Kristen Feden who is now in private practice in Philadelphia but returned as a special prosecutor.
But where last time O’Neill had permitted just one of the more than 60 other women to have accused Cosby of sexual assault to testify, this time he admitted five.
The first to testify to his ‘prior bad acts’ was Heidi Thomas. She was a 24-year-old aspiring actress and model when, in 1984, Cosby invited her to a remote ranch house in Nevada with the promise of mentoring her. Asked to do a ‘cold read’ of a drunk woman he offered her a glass of wine to use as a prop.
She said she lost consciousness after sipping the Chablis and had only ‘snapshots’ of memories of the next four days.
She recalled him on top of her trying to force himself into her mouth. And she remembered her head at the bottom of a bed and his voice telling her ‘your friend’s going to cum again’.
Thomas called him ‘a serial rapist’ from the stand.
Chelan Lasha was next. She wept, barely able to breathe at points, as she said she was a 17-year-old-model when she took pills offered to her by Cosby that he said would help the cold from which she was suffering.
She had visited his suite in the Las Vegas Hilton on the understanding that he was her friend and mentor. Instead she lay helpless as he pinched her breasts, humped her leg and grunted until she felt something warm on her leg.
More than 50 women have accused the disgraced comedian, 80, of sexual assault and misconduct
As Cosby walked into the courtroom on Wednesday morning, he appeared to have a tight smile on his face
In a moment of high emotion Lasha had looked across the courtroom and said ‘You remember don’t you Mr Cosby?’
Cosby remained impassive.
Janice Baker-Kinney, the third woman to take the stand, was a 24-year-old bartender at Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas when she and a friend went to a ‘pizza party’ at Cosby’s invitation when he was headlining there in 1982
She admitted to taking what she thought were two Quaaludes. Her next memory is of waking up naked in bed with Cosby, with a ‘sticky wetness’ between her legs and a certainty she had been violated.
The world’s first super-model Janice Dickinson was the fourth on the stand. The prosecution’s star witness of sorts, Dickinson was also a risky choice given her infamous volatility.
She once stated that if she ever came face to face with Cosby – whom she accused of drugging and raping her in Lake Tahoe – she would demand, ‘How f*****g dare you?’ and punch him in the face.
But she proved a poised witness as she recounted being ‘jolted awake’ to find Cosby entering her after going to his room following a dinner at Lake Tahoe during which he had given her pills that he told her would help menstrual cramps.
She recalled thinking how ‘very, very wrong’ it was to have ‘America’s Dad’ on top of her.
Maud Lotte Lublin, the fifth woman to take the stand, had no memory of any assault at all.
But, 25 years on she told the jury that she had visited Cosby in his suite in the Las Vegas Hilton and lost consciousness after taking two shots of Amaretto he offered her to help her ‘relax’.
Cosby, pictured with his spokespeople, twice said ‘good morning’ as he entered the courthouse on Thursday morning
Cosby gave the deposition more than a decade ago as part of Ms Constand’s civil suit against him, which he settled in 2006 for nearly $3.4 million
Cosby greets a man inside Montgomery County Courthouse on Thursday before jury deliberations started
The prosecution hoped to show a sinister pattern of behavior with this parade of women. Steele spoke of ‘design’ and urged the jury to see that what happened to Constand ‘was no accident.’
Mesereau set out to destroy the credibility of Cosby’s accusers.
The only discernible pattern he saw was that each woman was out for fame and money – specifically a chunk of the $100 million fund that women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred (who represents three of the accusers) has demanded Cosby establish for his alleged victims.
But before the jury had heard from any of the other women they had listened to forensic psychiatrist Dr Barbara Ziv.
She was there to dismantle our assumptions as to how a victim of sexual assault ‘should’ or does act. She referred to these largely erroneous beliefs as ‘rape myths’.
The assumptions that a victim will flee, immediately report and then shun all contact with her assaulter are wrong, she told the jury.
Eighty-seven percent of victims know their abuser and just seven percent, or less, report the crime. The vast majority retain some sort of contact with their assailant in an attempt to ‘make sense’ of what happened.
In the post #MeToo culture the prosecution hoped that jurors would be more open to the idea that women may not report an assault until long after the fact.
They also did their best to head off the issues last years’ jury had with inconsistencies that peppered Constand’s accounts to law enforcement.
Before the jury settled into the reading Judge Steven T O’Neill announced that he was giving the alternate jurors an hour with Montgomery Court of Common Pleas’ comfort dog – Turks, whose twitter page is pictured above
Cosby accusers Lili Bernard and Caroline Heldman pose for a selfie while waiting in line before the courtroom opens at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Wednesday morning
Feden had Ziv explain this too and she duly said in 20 years of practice she had yet to encounter a woman who gave a coherent, chronological account of a sexual assault.
Yet in a he said/she said the truthfulness of an accuser’s claims is often judged on her ability – or inability – to give a clear and consistent account.
Knowing this, Mesereau honed in on what he presented as a particularly damning inconsistency.
In Constand’s account of the assault in January 2004 she made a point of saying that she arrived at Cosby’s home on an empty stomach. It was why she was reluctant to drink the wine he pushed on her, she said.
Yet when she made her first report to Cheltenham Township police she pinpointed the date as mid March. She said she had gone back to his house after a group dinner at a Chinese restaurant. She would have just had a ‘big Chinese meal’ Mesereau observed.
Challenged by him Constand said she’d just got ‘confused’ and that she was ‘nervous.’
Mesereau went onto mock the notion that she was oblivious to Cosby’s ‘romantic interest’ in her with relentless questioning about dinners alone with him at his home and one evening when she drove several hours to spend the evening with him at a casino in Connecticut.
She ended up in Cosby’s room post dinner – to get some baked goods she said. Mesereau scoffed at the idea and reminded the jury that she ended up ‘laying in bed with the defendant’.
Last June, Constand had stridden into court, smiling and confident. This time her affect was very different.
Defense attorneys Kathleen Bliss (in red) and Tom Mesereau (second right), walk into Montgomery County Courthouse on Thursday
Defense attorney Tom Mesereau, who was caught snoozing in court on Wednesday, walks through the courthouse on Thursday
She seemed diminished, thinner and older. Her hair was cut more closely. Her jaw was set more tightly. There was, she said, ‘no upside’ for her in this prosecution.
She had been ‘relieved’ to think that it was all over when, in 2006, she signed her $3.4million settlement in the civil suit she brought against Cosby.
When a Federal judge granted a request to have Cosby’s civil suit deposition unsealed in 2015 Montgomery County Detective Bureau chose to re-investigate the case they had set aside ten years earlier.
Steele took the unsealed deposition as new evidence, brought in just under the wire for Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations and the stage for this high profile trial was set.
Cosby did not testify in either trial but the court heard section of his deposition read aloud. In it he admitted to giving Quaaludes to young women with the intention of having sex with them.
And he gave his account of the night in January 2004 on which Constand claimed he drugged and assaulted her.
What Constand described as assault Cosby said was consensual. He told investigator that they engaged in ‘a petting and necking session’ during Constand had an orgasm.
And for all the billable hours expended, the witnesses called, experts recruited and millions of dollars thrown at this case by both sides this is what it all boiled down to: He Said/She Said – that simple, complicated, dynamic and whether or not that left room for belief beyond reasonable doubt.