Bill Cosby found guilty of sexual assault: A look at the case

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby leaves court after deliberations in his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 16, 2017.  REUTERS/Charles Mostoller     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC119E409000

A jury found Bill Cosby guilty of sexual assault on April 26.

Cosby, now 80, was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in his Pennsylvania home in 2004. A jury of seven men and five women found him guilty on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault in a retrial of the case after less than two days of deliberations.

Cosby was charged with three counts that each carry a standard sentence range of five to 10 years in prison, but legal experts say the sentence for each count should run concurrently under Pennsylvania law since they all cover the same incident and conduct. That means the 80-year-old is likely facing up to 10 years behind bars.

Aside from Andrea Constand, the woman who brought Cosby to court, the jury also heard from five other women who claimed the comedian assaulted them too, painting him as a serial rapist.

Cosby’s first trial ended in a mistrial. Here’s a look at the second case and how the nation’s #MeToo movement could have played a role.

The allegations

Andrea Constand llega para reanudar su testimonio en el nuevo juicio de Bill Cosby por abuso sexual, el lunes 16 de abril del 2018 en la Corte del Condado de Montgomery en Norristown, Pennsylvania. (Dominick Reuter/Pool Photo vía AP)

Andrea Constand has accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004.  (AP Photo/Dominick Reuter)

Cosby was 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, said 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 in court to face Cosby “for justice.”

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.

Countering defense

Bill Cosby departs after his sexual assault trial, Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial is slated to take place in April.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Cosby maintained that any interaction between the pair was consensual.

Constand sued Cosby in 2005, and the two 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 heard Cosby’s past testimony about giving quaaludes to women before sex, calling the pills “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.'”

Cosby’s defense sought to discredit Constand in the first trial – pointing to inconsistencies in her story.

This time around, Cosby’s defense tried 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 also noted that Constand called him twice on Valentine’s Day, about a month after the alleged assault.

Constand said those calls were about basketball to a person she once considered to be a mentor. Records showed she made two brief calls to Cosby on Feb. 14, 2004, around the time of a Temple home game.

Bill Cosby, left, arrives with his wife, Camille, for his sexual assault trial, Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille, finally joined him in court as the defense wrapped up its closing arguments on April 24.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The defense called a witness in the retrial who said Constand 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, was not permitted to testify at the first trial.

Cosby obtained a new legal team for the retrial, led by former Michael Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau.

#MeToo effect

Janice Dickinson walks through the Montgomery County Courthouse during Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial Thursday, April 12, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. (Mark Makela/Pool Photo via AP)

Model and reality television star Janice Dickinson was one of five other woman who testified against Bill Cosby at the trial as part of the prosecution’s attempt to establish a pattern of behavior.  (AP Photo/Mark Makela)

While a jury didn’t convict Cosby at the first trial, there was 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.”

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 allowed for five women to testify in the 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.

“This is about whether you believe the victim or not, and the events of the last year certainly make the case harder for Cosby.”

– Lawyer Alan J. Tauber

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 were: Lise-Lotte Lublin, Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney and Heidi Thomas.

First mistrial

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.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn

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