By Veronica Mackey
When Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial in the Bill Cosby case on June 17, it was a crushing blow for the prosecution, but not surprising in hindsight. Bottom line is prosecutors failed to convince at least one juror that Cosby was guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his Philadelphia home in 2004.
The jury, which consisted of seven men and five women, was deadlocked, and the 79 year-old comedian walked out of court, a free man. He could have faced up to 10 years behind bars.
But it’s far from over, say prosecuting attorneys, who’ve vowed to retry the case, which had jurors deliberating for more than 50 hours. What exactly happened when the jury was sequestered is unknown. However, there were a few things that most likely caused the case to end with a hung jury.
Constand did not come across as credible enough. Questions arose about Constand being able to recall what happened while being drugged. Also under scrutiny was the fact that she took drugs offered by Cosby voluntarily. Accepting the drugs implied a level of trust and helped support Cosby’s assertion that sex between them was consensual.
Also, the fact that Constand called Cosby more than 50 times after the assault probably hurt her case. Constand said the calls were part of her work for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where Cosby was on the board of trustees.
Cosby did not testify. It is common for defendants not to take the stand, especially if the defense believes their client may be a loose cannon or say something incriminating. It is also a sign that the defense didn’t feel Constand’s testimony was strong enough to sway jurors against them.
Only one other woman was allowed to testify. Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 33 women accusing Cosby of drugging and/or molesting or raping them, tried to get the judge to hear testimony from at least 13 of them, but was unsuccessful.
Too much time had passed. Constand reported the alleged rape a year later. However, 12 years passed before charges were filed against Cosby because the district attorney declined to take the case due to lack of evidence. The statue of limitations ran out on most of Cosby’s accusers. They failed to file charges for various reasons, although they were allegedly attacked decades ago—some as far back as the 70s.
Montgomery County D.A. Kevin R. Steele said Constand is onboard and willing to testify again. Round two could render a different outcome if more women are allowed to testify and most jurors believes Constand’s story beyond a reasonable doubt.
Allred plans to bring a civil case against Cosby in California as early as this month. Her client was a minor at the time she was allegedly raped by Cosby.
Judge O’Neill, who pressed jurors to try for a verdict, before they returned hopelessly deadlocked, is likely to want to get a retrial started sooner rather than later.