Embattled comedian Bill Cosby is back in court as his sexual assault retrial is underway.
Cosby, now 80, is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in his Pennsylvania home in 2004, facing the same charges he did in the first case that ended in a mistrial in June 2017.
A jury of seven men and five women were selected for the upcoming retrial. Ten of the jurors are white; two are black.
If convicted, Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison on each of the three charges of aggravated indecent assault.
As Cosby headed back to trial on April 9, here’s a look at the case, what’s different about the retrial and how the nation’s #MeToo movement could impact it.
Cosby is accused of giving Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, pills that left her incapacitated before he allegedly performed sexual acts on her without her consent.
Constand and Cosby met while she was the director for the women’s basketball team at Temple, Cosby’s Philadelphia alma mater. The pair “developed what [Constand] believed to be a sincere friendship,” and Constand eventually looked to the older comedian as a mentor, according to court documents.
Constand, now 45, alleged that Cosby made sexual advances toward her multiple times, and she turned him down. But on one specific visit to his home in 2004, Cosby gave her “three blue pills” that blurred her vision and made her feel as though she was “in and out” [of consciousness], according to court documents.
Cosby then engaged in sexual acts with Constand, while she couldn’t move or speak, that she did not consent to, she said.
Constand told the jury she was back in court to face Cosby “for justice.” She denied claims by the defense that she is a “con artist” who wanted money from Cosby.
Her mother, too, testified on behalf of her daughter, saying she spoke to Cosby on the phone about a year after the alleged incident. During the phone conversation, she said, Cosby apologized after he described in graphic detail the alleged encounter.
Gianna Constand said her daughter would scream in her sleep after the alleged incident.
While more than 60 women have come forward over the years to accuse the man once affectionately known as “America’s Dad” of sexual misconduct, Constand’s allegations are the only ones that brought a criminal case against Cosby. Many of the other women’s accusations fall outside of the statute of limitations.
Cosby has maintained that any interaction between the pair was consensual.
Constand sued Cosby in 2005, and the pair settled for nearly $3.4 million the next year. In the deposition for that case, Cosby admitted to buying Quaaludes and giving women drugs and alcohol before sex – but he said every interaction was consensual, including with Constand.
The jury will hear Cosby’s past testimony about giving quaaludes to women before sex, calling the pills “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.'” The testimony being used in the case is a win for the prosecution.
Cosby’s defense sought to discredit Constand in the first trial – pointing to inconsistencies in her story. The defense also noted that Cosby and Constand had spoken over the phone dozens of times since the alleged incident, with Constand initiating the majority of those calls.
This time around, Cosby’s defense is trying to portray Constand as an opportunist who feigned romantic interest in him and then leveled a false accusation of sexual assault so she could file a lawsuit. The defense is also noting that Constand called him twice on Valentine’s Day, about a month after the alleged assault.
However, Constand has said those calls were about basketball to a person she once considered to be a mentor. Records show she did make two brief calls to Cosby on Feb. 14, 2004, around the time of a Temple home game.
The defense is allowed to call a witness in the retrial who says Cosby’s accuser talked about framing a “high-profile person” before she lodged sexual abuse allegations against him. Marguerite Jackson, a former Temple administrator who said she was friends with Constand and shared hotel rooms with her, was not permitted to testify at the first trial.
Cosby has a new legal team for the upcoming trial, led by former Michael Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau.
A week before the retrial, Cosby’s defense made a last-ditch effort to push the case back by asking the judge to recuse himself because his wife is a social worker who advocates for victims of sexual assault. Judge Steven O’Neill, who presided over the first trial, pushed back against accusations that he’s influenced by his wife’s work and denied the request.
While a jury didn’t convict Cosby at the first trial, there is speculation that the national #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, assault and misconduct could play a role with jurors this go-around.
“This is about whether you believe the victim or not, and the events of the last year certainly make the case harder for Cosby,” Philadelphia criminal lawyer Alan J. Tauber, who isn’t involved in the case, told The Associated Press. “Ordinary people are seeing people they respect and trust undermined by terrible accusations.”
“This is about whether you believe the victim or not, and the events of the last year certainly make the case harder for Cosby.”
For the new trial, prosecutors had hoped to call as many as 19 other accusers to show a pattern of “prior bad acts” over five decades; in the first trial, only one woman was allowed to do so.
O’Neill has allowed for five women to testify in the upcoming retrial, including model and reality television star Janice Dickinson. Dickinson, now 63, has alleged that Cosby drugged her, rendering her unconscious, and sexually assaulted her when she was 27.
Dickinson said she did not come forward about what allegedly happened to her at the time because she was afraid of retaliation from Cosby and damages to her career.
The other accusers who testified are: Lise-Lotte Lublin, Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney and Heidi Thomas.
Cosby’s original trial ended in a mistrial on June 17, 2017 after the jury deliberated for more than 52 hours over six days and still couldn’t reach a verdict.
Prosecutors immediately promised to retry Cosby, who was freed from prison on $1 million bail.
Lissa Kaplan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.