Hung jury: Judge declares mistrial in Bill Cosby case

Posted at 10:51 AM, Jun 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-17 12:07:43-04

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (FOX NEWS) — Bill Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges ended in a mistrial on Saturday after jurors failed to break a deadlock after more than 52 hours of deliberations over six days.

The jury confirmed to the judge that they could not reach a unanimous decision on whether “The Cosby Show” star drugged and molested Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial for the 79-year-old comedian.

The 79-year-old star is charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. The charges each carry a standard sentence range of five to 10 years in prison, but legal experts say the sentence for each count should run concurrently under Pennsylvania law since they all cover the same incident and conduct. That means the once-celebrated actor is facing up to 10 years behind bars.

During the six-day trial, the jury heard Constand describe a 2004 sexual encounter with Cosby at his Philadelphia home.

Defense attorney Brian McMonagle told the jury during his closing statements that Cosby and Constand were lovers who had enjoyed secret “romantic interludes,” insisting the 2004 encounter was consensual. McMonagle said that while the comedian had been unfaithful to his wife, he didn’t commit a crime.

Constand testified on June 6th that she shot down the actor’s casual advances twice before she found herself paralyzed and unable to fight him off the night she took pills that he convinced her were safe herbal supplements.

“In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, but I was frozen,” Constand, a former employee of the basketball program at Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater, said during their courtroom confrontation. “I wasn’t able to fight in any way. I wanted it to stop.”

The jury returned to the courtroom TIMES to ask questions regarding the testimony they had heard. The judge lauded the jury on Wednesday night.

“This is an incredible jury that has just acted with incredible dignity and fidelity,” O’Neill said. “I don’t have any higher praise. You have taken your task so seriously.”

On Thursday, he told them it was “too early” for them to determine they were deadlocked and asked them to give it another go, but ultimately they could not reach a verdict.

For now, Cosby’s fate remains unclear. The judge could decide to retry the comedian or Cosby could walk away a free man.

The comedian, who starred as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992, earned a reputation as “America’s Dad.”

That reputation was slowly torn to pieces as dozens of women came forward, beginning in 2014, and accused him of drugging them, assaulting them or both. Their stories were all eerily similar and eventually led to the star being ostracized by Hollywood.

Before his downfall, Cosby was long-known as for his success as a comedian and actor. He won five Grammy Awards after breaking into the standup scene in ‘60s. He then paralleled that success on TV, winning three consecutive Emmy Awards from 1966 to 1968 for his role on “I Spy.” The show elevated him to a new level of stardom and led to the eventual creation of his titular sitcom, “The Cosby Show.” In the 1998, he became known to a new generation as the host of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

He was also once praised as a philanthropist, and received more than 50 honorary degrees from universities across the country. Cosby’s legacy of giving was topped by a $20 million gift to Spelman College in 1988 and including, among many other donations, $3 million to the Morehouse School of Medicine and $1 million in 2004 to the U.S. National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Those degrees were revoked one-by-one as more women spoke out against him.

Cosby said in an interview ahead of the trial that he was looking forward to being found innocent and he wanted to be “remembered as being the guy that they give back all the things that they rescinded.”

Cosby’s wife, Camille, has stood by him, appearing in court on day six of his trial. His children have also supported him, with daughters Ensa and Erinn speaking out about the allegations against their dad.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.