Jury begins deliberations in Bill Cosby trial
Mark Makela/Getty Images(NORRISTOWN, Pa.) — Bill Cosby’s fate is in the hands of a Pennsylvania jury that began deliberating this morning after hearing evidence over the past two weeks in which prosecutors portrayed the comedian as a serial sex predator and defense attorneys countered he’s being framed by a victim they’ve slammed as a “pathological liar.”
Cosby appeared upbeat as he entered the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, pumping his right fist in the air to a crowd of small supporters outside the courthouse shouting, “We love you Bill!” and “We’ve got your back, Bill!”
“These accusations are ridiculous, this case is beyond weak and this jury will recognize this and render the correct verdict,” Cosby spokeswoman Ebonee Benson said as she arrived at the court with the 80-year-old defendant.
The jury of seven men and five women began deliberating around 11 a.m.
Cosby is being retried on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand, 44, a former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where Cosby was a trustee and major financial donor. His first trial ended in a mistrial in June when a jury failed to reach a verdict.
If convicted of any of the three counts and the judge revokes his bail, Cosby would be taken into custody in court and transferred to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Eagleville, according to Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spokeswoman Amy Worden. He would wear a cocoa-brown prison uniform and be assigned and identified by his inmate number, would have to stand to be counted four times a day, and would work at a job that pays between 19 and 42 cents an hour, Worden told ABC News.
In her closing argument on Tuesday, Cosby’s attorney Kathleen Bliss asked the jury to base its verdict solely on the evidence heard in court. She launched into a withering indictment of both the #MeToo movement against the abuse and sexual harassment of women, and the numerous female witnesses the prosecution called to testify about how Cosby allegedly drugged and molested them.
“When you join a movement based primarily on emotion and anger, you don’t change a damned thing,” Bliss told jurors in the Pennsylvania courtroom. “Which is why each single case must be examined on its merits. All of the evidence must be weighed.”
Bliss added: “The bottom line here is that if you don’t believe Andrea Constand, you must acquit Mr. Cosby.”
Cosby’s lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau told the panel that Constand is a “pathological liar” who is out to frame Cosby.
On the first day of the trial, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele publicly said Cosby paid Constand $3.38 million in exchange for her silence about him allegedly drugging and sexually assaulted her.
Cosby has adamantly denied the allegations of Constand and the other accusers and his attorneys noted he settled a civil suit filed against him by Constand without admitting any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors contend the evidence they presented during the trial shows Cosby used his good-guy image as “America’s Dad” to win the confidence of his alleged victims only to drug and sexually assault them.
“The defendant spent years and years building up his bank of trust and reputation,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan told jurors. “He used it every single time he sexually assaulted a woman. He tried to use it with Andrea Constand. He’s trying to use it with you.”
During the retrial, prosecutors won a huge victory in being allowed to call five additional women to the witness stand who shared strikingly similar allegations of being drugged and molested by the entertainer despite the statute of limitations having long run out for potential criminal prosecution in those cases. During the first trial, only Constand and one additional accuser were allowed to testify.
In his closing argument, Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Stewart Ryan accused Cosby’s lawyers of trying to impeach the numerous accusers with “questions designed to shame, to blame and to re-victimize.”
“I can only hope, and my colleagues share this sentiment, that what we are seeing is the last vestiges of a tactic not to get to the truth, but to damage character and reputation,” Ryan told the jury.
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