The Bill Cosby sexual assault trial took an abrupt turn on Monday when the defense rested after six minutes, which involved the testimony of one witness (who was not Bill Cosby). After five days of deliberations, the judge has declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. The group of seven men and five women was simply unable — after over 50 hours of deliberations — to reach a unanimous decision regarding the 79-year-old fallen idol’s alleged sexual assault of Andrea Constand in 2004.
Thus ends a 10-day-long courtroom endeavor, in which the prosecution laid out its case with twelve witnesses over the course of five days. The jury first declared that they were unable to reach a verdict on Thursday, at which point Judge Steven O’Neill sent them back into deliberations. Most recently on Friday, the jury requested an instruction on the definition of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which didn’t provide much optimism for a general public who largely believed that Cosby was guilty. The defense had argued that the sex was consensual despite the drugging of Constand.
The New York Times reports that the judge was careful to articulate that this is not a victory for Cosby:
“This is neither a vindication or a victory,” said Judge O’Neill who praised the jurors for their service and asked them not to discuss their deliberations. “They are yours and yours alone,” he said.
The case turned largely on the credibility of Ms. Constand, a former Temple University employee. She testified that the assault occurred in a visit to the home of Mr. Cosby, who was a Temple trustee, when she was 30 and he was 66. She said that Mr. Cosby gave her pills that he said were herbal, but that left her immobile and drifting in and out of consciousness. He has said that he only gave her Benadryl.
Cosby never took the stand in his defense, which is not unusual in a criminal trial. However, many wondered whether he might do so, given the widespread nature of the allegations against him. Over the past few years, dozens of other Cosby accusers have come forward to tell their stories, which were all startlingly similar to Constand’s testimony. Most of these women alleged that Cosby drugged them — either with pills or an odd-tasting beverage — so that they were unable to resist (and sometimes, they blacked out) during the encounters.
Over the course of this past week — when it became increasingly apparent that this jury could not arrive at a unanimous verdict regarding Cosby’s alleged sexual assault of Constand — defense attorneys asked Judge O’Neill to declare a mistrial. He refused in order to allow the jury to continue its attempts as long as they were willing to do so. On Saturday morning, they told the judge that they were “deadlocked on all counts,” and they answered affirmatively to his question on whether they were “hopelessly deadlocked.” O’Neill declared that they jury’s attempts constituted a “courageous” and “supreme” effort. He also stated, “I feel bad for all of you. I really do.”
The Montgomery County DA has tweeted confirmation of a future retrial.