Judge declares mistrial after jury deadlock
Of the over 50 sexual assault allegations that have been levied against Bill Cosby, it was his alleged 2004 assault of Andrea Constand in Philadelphia that led to actual criminal charges, which Cosby faced in Pennsylvania this week. The jury—and a gallery that included several other women that have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them—heard prosecutors argue that Cosby was a dangerous predator, while Cosby’s defense team argued that the accusations were part of a scheme to target his finances. Ultimately, a jury of seven men and five women couldn’t collectively support either theory, and the judge declared a mistrial.
According to Variety, Constand testified that in 2004, when she was the women’s basketball team manager at Temple University, Cosby, a member of the school’s board of trustees, invited her to his home in Elkins Park to discuss her future career plans. Upon her arrival, Constand alleged that Cosby presented her with three blue pills, claiming they would relax her. Constand said she subsequently became incapacitated, and Cosby then sexually assaulted her on a nearby couch. “I was frozen,” she told the jury. “I wanted it to stop.”
Early on Saturday afternoon, a statement from Cosby’s wife, Camille Cosby, was posted to the comedian’s official Twitter account. It begins with Camille lambasting the Montgomery County District Attorney and the judge that presided over her husband’s case, Judge Steven O’Neill, claiming that the two “overtly and arrogantly” collaborated on a “heinously and exploitatively ambitious agenda.” She continues by thanking the jurors who “tenaciously fought” to review evidence and supporters that “never gave up.” A couple of those supporters were present in court for Cosby proceedings, including Keisha Knight-Pulliam, who portrayed Rudy on The Cosby Show. Knight-Pulliam was photographed escorting Cosby to the first day of the trial and has publicly defended him in the past.
The burden of proof is, of course, on the prosecution, and early criticisms have been that the Montgomery DA didn’t do enough to convince each juror beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, as criminal defense analyst Jill Stanley points out, Cosby’s defense was rigid. “[His team] fought hard on every witness, every document, every report… his defense was vigorous,” she says on her website, Proof With Jill Stanley. “They left no stone unturned.”
The State reserves the right to retry the case, considering a mistrial doesn’t carry the same prohibitions as an acquittal, but should they decide to do so, the burden of proof already weighing on them will be that much heavier.