Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault.
The comedian and actor originally faced trial last year for charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago. The trial ended in a mistrial after a jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision.
The retrial took place at Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Earlier today (April 26), a jury – comprised of five women and seven men – reached a verdict. They found Cosby, 80, guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault – penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant.
As the New York Times reports, each charge is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison. However, the sentences could be served simultaneously.
Constand, 45, is one of more than 50 women who have accused Cosby of similar crimes, but none of the other claims have led to prosecution. She testified during the trial that during a visit to Cosby’s home in 2004, he gave her pills that caused her to fall in and out of consciousness. He claimed they were Benadryl. The star did not testify in his defence, but his lawyers claimed the incident was part of a consensual affair with his accuser.
“I was kind of jolted awake and felt Mr Cosby on the couch beside me, behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully, and I felt my breast being touched,” Constand told the court. “I was limp, and I could not fight him off.”
During the trial, five other women testified that they had had similar experiences with Cosby, including model Janice Dickinson. She said he had assaulted her in a hotel room in 1982 after giving her a pill to help her with menstrual cramps. Cosby’s defence team suggested Dickinson had made up the story, noting that her memoir mentioned meeting Cosby in a hotel room, but not that he had assaulted her. Her publisher later testified that the account had been kept out of the book for legal reasons.
Cosby previously paid Constant $3.38 million (£2.43 million) in 2006 as part of a confidential financial settlement in response to a lawsuit she had filed against him. As part of a deposition related to the lawsuit, Cosby also admitted having obtained qualuudes to give to women he wanted to have sex with.
After the verdict was announced, Judge Steven T. O’Neill told the jurors it was “an extraordinarily difficult case”, but they had “sacrificed much, but you have sacrificed in the service of justice.” Once jurors left the courtroom, Cosby is reported to have lashed out at District Attorney Kevin Steele as he argued to revoke the star’s bail.
O’Neill ruled that Cosby will remain free until he is sentenced.