On Thursday afternoon, Bill Cosby, once among the most beloved and influential celebrities in American pop culture, was found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
The jury deliberated for 13 hours and returned guilty verdicts on all three counts of aggravated indecent assault — a felony under Pennsylvania law — with which Cosby was charged. Each count carries a maximum ten-year sentence.
Cosby’s first criminal trial, held in the same Norristown, PA courtroom last June, ended in a mistrial. On that occasion, the jury spent 50 hours deliberating, but were unable to reach a verdict on any of the three counts. Cosby was charged in December 2015.
Though district attorney Kevin Steele could move immediately to revoke Bill Cosby’s bail and have Cosby jailed, he elected not to do so. Cosby has been ordered not to leave his home in Cheltenham — the same home where he sexually assaulted Constand.
Cosby accuser Lili Bernard had to be escorted out of court after it is announced that Cosby is guilty on all counts, since she was so overcome with emotion. Cosby has stayed nearly expressionless.
— Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) April 26, 2018
Judge Steven T. O’Neill is expected to issue a sentence within 60 to 90 days. Though Cosby’s team will likely appeal the ruling, you cannot appeal a conviction to the Pennsylvania Superior Court until after sentencing is complete.
Several Cosby accusers attended the retrial and were seen exiting the courtroom in tears after the verdict was announced.
Incredible scenes as women run weeping from the courtroom immediately after Cosby is found GUITLY, and tearfully embrace one another. pic.twitter.com/5GWThXycx9
— David Mack (@davidmackau) April 26, 2018
A handful of Cosby accusers, including Lili Bernard, an activist and artist who says Cosby drugged and raped her in the 1990s when she was a guest star on The Cosby Show, was among the accusers at the retrial. At a post-verdict press conference on the courthouse steps, she told the media that the conviction is “a victory for womanhood.”
“I stand here in the spirit of Martin Luther King, who said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but today it has bent towards justice,” Bernard said.
Cosby was also reportedly emotional after the verdict, even yelling at Steele during a discussion about whether or not Cosby’s bail should be revoked. Steele pointed out that Cosby had his own plane, and Cosby shouted back, profanely, that it didn’t make a difference. (Other reports have Cosby saying “I don’t have a private plane, you asshole.”)
Whoa. Amid a post-verdict discussion over whether to revoke convicted Cosby's bail, the DA noted he owns a private plane.
"Doesn’t matter that I have a plane, you a**hole!" Cosby shouted, per @MattPieper.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) April 26, 2018
What did Steele make of the outburst? He told reporters after the verdict, “I guess you got to see a brief view of who he really is.”
More than 60 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual violence. Their allegations date as far back as 1965 and are as recent as 2014. Yet due to a battery of obstacles — expired statutes of limitation chief among them — only Constand has seen her report result in criminal charges against Cosby.
Her journey to this courtroom began in January 2005, when she first reported to the police. The district attorney at the time declined to bring charges, citing insufficient evidence. Constand then filed a civil suit against Cosby, and they settled out of court for a considerable sum — $3.38 million — that would remain a secret until brought to light at the retrial this April.
And that could have been the end of it for Constand, even though she knew then she was not the only woman to say Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted her. Thirteen Jane Doe witnesses had been deposed and were ready to testify on her behalf for the criminal trial that never materialized.
But in 2014, Hannibal Buress told a joke that changed Cosby’s life. Interest in the long-ignored allegations against Cosby spiked, and dozens of women came forward to say Cosby had sexually assaulted them. Several Jane Doe witnesses from Constand’s civil suit revealed their identities for the first time. And with only six months left before 12-year statue of limitations ran out under Pennsylvania law, Montgomery County district attorney Risa Vetri Ferman reopened the Constand investigation.
Cosby’s criminal trial was held last June in Norristown, Pa. The jury deliberated for 50 hours but could not reach a verdict on any of the three counts.
Minutes after Judge O’Neill declared a mistrial, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele announced his plans to retry Cosby. Cosby’s team tried multiple times to get the case thrown out; they failed, and the retrial began on April 9.
The defense argued that Constand had concocted an elaborate extortion plot, that she was a master manipulator who lied about sexual assault in the hopes of a big payoff. The prosecution, with the aid of five prior bad acts witnesses — other women who say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them who were permitted to testify — fought to prove Cosby was a serial sexual predator with a modus operandi, who repeatedly targeted and assaulted women over the course of his life.
As Cosby left the courtroom on Thursday, he lifted his cane in the air with his right hand and held onto his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, with his left.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 26, 2018
Speaking outside the courtroom after the verdict, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau said the “fight is not over” and announced plans to appeal. Cosby did not speak to the press.
This is a breaking news story and has been updated.