Pennsylvania court found Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault on Thursday,the 80-year-old comedian faces up to 10 years in prison on each count, but Cosby is likely to serve them concurrently.
The Jury found him guilty of drugging and molesting a university employee 14 years ago in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.
Bill Cosby was found guilty of assaulting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia mansion in January 2004. It was gathered that Constand was in the court room in Norristown, just outside Philadelphia, as the verdict was read out to stifled sobs in the gallery. The jury had deliberated for more than 14 hours over two days
Cosby was charged with the 2004 assault of Andrea Costand, who said Cosby had given her pills in his suburban Pennsylvania home that left her incapacitated and then molested her.
Cosby, who did not testify in the trial and has sat quietly through the proceedings, stood up and yelled in a booming voice: “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole.”
Judge O’Neill ruled that Cosby should not leave his home. Since Cosby has homes in multiple states, the judge noted that if he does arrange with the appropriate offices to stay in a home in another state he must first be fitted with a GPS tracking device before leaving.
Cosby is likely to serve them concurrently. A sentencing hearing with Judge Steven O’Neill has not yet been scheduled, and Cosby remains out on bail.
The verdict came a year after Cosby’s previous trial ended in a mistrial, as a different panel of jurors said they were deadlocked and could not unanimously agree on a verdict. This jury began deliberating Wednesday around 11 a.m., and worked for more than 14 hours over two days to reach the verdict.
At the retrial, five other Cosby accusers testified as “prior bad acts” witnesses and said that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them decades ago.
Mr. Cosby did not comment as he left the courthouse, but his lead lawyer, Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., said his client would appeal. “We are very disappointed by the verdict,” he said. “We don’t believe Mr. Cosby is guilty of anything.”
Inside the courtroom, the judge thanked the jurors for their service, calling it an “extraordinarily difficult case.”
Prosecutors asked the judge that Cosby be sent to jail immediately and his bail revoked because he has a private plane and could pose a flight risk. The request prompted the first real outburst from Cosby in the course of the trial. According to the Associated Press, Cosby shouted: “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole,” referring to a prosecutor. “I’m sick of him!”
The judge ultimately declined the prosecution’s request, citing Cosby’s age and poor health. Cosby is out on a $1 million bond and was forced to surrender his passport. Cosby will be sentenced at a later date, though his lawyers vowed to appeal.
“Enough of that,” Judge Steven T. O’Neill said. He did not view Mr. Cosby as a flight risk, he said, adding that he could be released on bail but that he would have to remain in his nearby home. The judge did not set a date to sentence Mr. Cosby on the three counts, all felonies and each punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.
Speaking to the media with Constand standing by, district attorney Kevin Steele thanked the jury in an emotional statement. He called Constand “the most important person” in the case and hailed her courage for coming forward against a “powerful man.”
Five other women were called to the witness stand and testified the same thing had happened to them. Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents three of those women, said outside court that “justice has been done.”
“Bill Cosby, three words for you — guilty, guilty, guilty,” she said to cheers.
The National Organization for Women called the verdict a “notice to sexual predators everywhere.” Rose McGowan, one of the women who has accused Harvey Weinstein of assault, tweeted a thank you to the judge and jury and to “society for waking up.” Gloria Allred, the lawyer who represented many of Mr. Cosby’s accusers, hailed the decision as an important breakthrough.
“After all is said and done, women were finally believed,” she said outside the courtroom.
In recent years, Mr. Cosby, 80, had admitted to decades of philandering, and to giving quaaludes to women as part of an effort to have sex, smashing the image he had built as a moralizing public figure and the upstanding paterfamilias in the wildly popular 1980s and ’90s sitcom “The Cosby Show.” He did not testify in his own defense, avoiding a grilling about those admissions, but he and his lawyers have insisted that his encounter with Ms. Constand was part of a consensual affair, not an assault.
The prosecution countered that it was Mr. Cosby who had been a deceiver, hiding behind his amiable image as America’s Dad to prey on women that he first incapacitated with intoxicants. During closing arguments Tuesday, Ms. Feden told the jury: “She is not the con. He is.”
The defense’s star witness was a veteran academic adviser at Temple who said Ms. Constand had confided to her in 2004 that she could make money by falsely claiming she had been molested by a prominent person. Mr. Cosby paid Ms. Constand $3.38 million in 2006 as part of the confidential financial settlement of a lawsuit she had brought against him after prosecutors originally declined to bring charges.
Mr. Cosby’s lawyers had tried to block the additional women from testifying, arguing their accounts would be prejudicial. They noted that the scrutiny of sexual assault had heightened, and recently had ensnared a group of high-profile men, but they said it was only Mr. Cosby who was on trial in this instance. “Mob rule is not due process,” Ms. Bliss told the jury.
Many of the accusers celebrated the verdict with laughter and tears. Patricia Steuer, 61, who accused Mr. Cosby of drugging and assaulting her in 1978 and 1980, said she and her husband were in a pharmacy at Lake Tahoe when the news arrived by text.
Cosby waved to the crowd outside the courthouse, got into an SUV and left without comment. His lawyer Tom Mesereau declared “the fight is not over”
Universities revoke Cosby’s honorary degrees after verdict
Hours after the verdict, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania announced it was revoking the honorary degree it awarded Cosby in 2007.
Mr. Cosby returned to the suburban mansion where, in the evening, his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said Mr. Cosby planned to appeal on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct and to also assert that the statute of limitations had expired before charges were filed in December 2015.