Bill Cosby's retrial: Everything you need to know
Bill Cosby's first trial in Norristown ended on an inconclusive note - a hung jury and a mistrial. But as his second courtroom showdown against accuser Andrea Constand opens April 9, the retrial is shaping up to be no simple repeat. Here's everything you need to know about the case.
Bill Cosby's first trial in Norristown ended on an inconclusive note – a hung jury and a mistrial. But as his second courtroom showdown against accuser Andrea Constand opens April 9, the retrial is shaping up to be no simple repeat. Click here for the latest developments, and read on for everything you need to know about the case.
What happened last time? After five days and 52 hours of deliberations in June, the first jury to weigh the case against Bill Cosby reported that it was hopelessly deadlocked, prompting Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill to declare a mistrial and setting up the second trial playing out in Norristown this month. The last batch of jurors described hours of tense deliberations, with some saying they were completely convinced of Cosby's guilt, while others would not be swayed from their position that Constand was unconvincing on the witness stand. (READ MORE: Cosby's only criminal sex-assault case ends in a hung jury, mistrial)
What was Cosby's alleged crime? Constand says that during a visit to Cosby's Cheltenham mansion in 2004, Cosby encouraged her to take three blue pills after she complained of a headache. She told police that the next thing she knew, she was fading in and out of consciousness and woke up the next morning with her sweater bunched up around her and her bra undone. Cosby has admitted they had sexual contact that night, but maintains that it was consensual and that the medication he gave her was just an herbal remedy. (READ MORE: Constand confronts Cosby: "I wasn't able to fight him in any way" | DOCUMENT: Read the criminal complaint)
What are the charges? Cosby is charged with three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault around that single encounter with Constand. If convicted, he could face up to a decade in prison.
Who is Andrea Constand? At the time she met Bill Cosby, Constand was working as the operations manager for Temple University's women's basketball team. Cosby, a university trustee, took an interest in her, and they became friends. Constand has described him as a mentor, but insists she had no romantic feelings toward him as she is gay. After her alleged assault, Constand moved back to her hometown of Toronto, Ontario, where she now works as a massage therapist. But Cosby's defense aims to paint the 44-year-old as a gold-digging opportunist who they say once told a confidant of a plan to fabricate her assault claims to extort money from Cosby. (READ MORE: As Cosby's trial begins, focus shifts to woman whose story could convict him | Cosby accuser Constand remains an enigma)
Why is Cosby being tried more than a decade after the alleged assault? Constand first came forward in 2005, a year after her alleged assault, but then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor declined to bring charges, saying he didn't believe the case would stand up in court. After that decision, Constand filed a civil suit against Cosby, which they settled out of court in 2006 for an undisclosed sum. But as the Cosby scandal reignited in late 2014, interest in Constand's claims was revived. A federal judge in Philadelphia unsealed excerpts from Cosby's deposition in the civil suit, which led a new Montgomery County District Attorney, Risa Vetri Ferman, to reopen the criminal investigation and to charge Cosby in December 2015.
How will the #MeToo movement affect the trial? Although jurors will be instructed to focus only on the allegations and evidence presented in the courtroom, the shadow of the #MeToo movement has loomed large over the run-up to the retrial. Since the last trial, the cultural landscape surrounding public awareness of sexual assault by powerful men has shifted dramatically. Powerful Hollywood icons such as Harvey Weinstein and media figures such as Matt Lauer have been brought down by accusers who say they felt empowered to come forward amid a wider public reckoning with the entertainment industry's casting-couch culture. Cosby's lawyers have expressed concern that it will be impossible to find jurors who can set aside their feelings about other celebrity sex assault allegations. (READ MORE: Bill Cosby's lawyers, fearing #MeToo backlash, fight to keep 19 other accusers out of court)
Will Cosby testify? He did not take the witness stand during his first trial, and Cosby's new legal team has given no indication of a different approach the second time around. Yet in the months leading up to his second trial, Cosby appeared to be making a concerted effort to remind his hometown of Philadelphia why he was once so beloved. He delivered a surprise stand-up performance at a Germantown jazz club in January and invited reporters to tail him to dinner at a Pennsport restaurant. (READ MORE: Bill Cosby takes the stage at Germantown club for first public performance in years | Bill Cosby returns to Philly for a meal, says 'we're ready' for retrial )
How many accusers will testify? More than 60 women have come forward since 2014 to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct dating back decades. But the judge has limited prosecutors to calling only five, aside from Constand, as witnesses. They include supermodel Janice Dickinson, one of Cosby's most vocal critics; Janice Baker Kinney, a former bartender; and three once-aspiring actresses – Heidi Thomas, Chelan Lasha, and Lise-Lotte Lublin. All say Cosby drugged and assaulted them after approaching them as a mentor in the '80s. Missing from that list, however, was Kelly Johnson, a former talent agency assistant who was the only other Cosby accuser allowed to testify at his first trial. (READ MORE: These are the five additional accusers set to testify at Bill Cosby's trial)
What is the evidence? To bolster Constand's claims, prosecutors are presenting evidence they say shows that Cosby acted in the way she describes.
*The deposition. In a 2006 deposition as part of Constand's civil suit against him, Cosby discussed buying the party drug Quaaludes to use in what he described as consensual sexual encounters with women. (READ MORE: Jurors hear Cosby's description of liaison with Constand: 'I am not stopped' | Ending with Cosby's own words, prosecution rests)
Who are the lawyers? After parting ways with the defense attorneys from his first trial, Cosby now has a legal team led by Tom Mesereau, a go-to Hollywood lawyer whose past clients include Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, and Baretta star Robert Blake. Joining Mesereau on the defense team are former federal prosecutor Kathleen Bliss, appellate expert Becky S. James, and Montgomery County attorney Lane Vines. On the prosecution side, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele is leading the government's case against Cosby. In his first run for office, Steele was elected in late 2015 with a campaign that ran television ads focused on the Cosby case. (READ MORE: Cosby hires Michael Jackson lawyer to defend him in sex-assault retrial)