Washington DC Injury Lawyers
In recent years, more than 60 women have came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct over decades, however, the statute of limitations had passed for most of the accusers, save for former Temple University basketball team employee Andrea Constand, who came forward in 2015 to accuse Cosby of giving her pills during a visit to his Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania home and then molested her while she was incapacitated back in 2004.
Accusations and rumors about sexual assault followed Cosby for years, but it wasn’t until 2015, when Cosby was charged with felony assault for the 2004 incident.
At the time that the charges were brought, Kevin Steele, then-Montgomery County District Attorney-Elect, stated, “The evidence is strong and sufficient to proceed. A person in that state cannot give consent.”
New evidence in the 11-year-old case emerged in July 2015 after a federal judge unsealed 2006 court documents in a civil suit filed by Constand in which Cosby admitted he had given women quaaludes as a party drug to have sex with them.
Cosby’s case first went to trial in June 2017, but ended in a mistrial. The second case went to trial 10 months later.
In the first trial, the jury heard Constand’s story, along with one other Cosby accuser. However, in the second trial prosecution was allowed to call five witnesses, who each recalled how Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them. The incidents went all the way back to the 1980s. During the trial, the judge reminded the jury that Cosby was not on trial for these other allegations, but, the judge allowed the prosecution’s witnesses testimonies to establish Cosby’s pattern of “prior bad acts.”
Janice Baker-Kinney, one of Cosby’s accusers at the trial, testified about why it took her so long to come forward and why she finally spoke out.
She said on the stand, “For 30 years I really didn’t think about it. I didn’t want to think about it. And I will tell you that when women started coming forward and my husband—my current husband —started seeing articles in the paper about it, he kept pointing them out to me. And what I said was, ‘I don’t want to read them. I don’t want to hear about those.’ I … don’t know how to sum it up.”
During the trial, the amount of Constand’s 2006 settlement with Cosby was made public for the first time, which came to nearly $3.4 million.
During prosecution’s three-hour closing statement, Prosecutor Kristen Feden called out one of Cosby’s lawyers, Kathleen Bliss, saying, “That character assassination that Ms. Bliss put those women through was utterly shameful. She’s the exact reason why women, victims of sexual assault and men don’t report these crimes.”
Meanwhile, Cosby’s side has maintained the former Cosby Show star’s innocence.
On April 26, 2018, a Pennsylvania jury found Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, which carries five to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Following the verdict, prosecutors asked that Cosby be sent to jail immediately and his bail revoked due to a possible flight risk. The judge declined the request, citing Cosby’s advanced age and ailing health. Cosby had to put up $1 million bond and surrendered his passport.
After the trial, lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau said, “We don’t believe Mr. Cosby is guilty of anything.”
Meanwhile, the now-Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a press conference, “Nineteen [women] were willing to stand up with us in this prosecution. We are humbled by the courage all of them showed. And we can’t help but applaud and celebrate the five witnesses that had a chance to face Bill Cosby in this case to tell the jury, to tell all of you, what he did to them.”
On Sept. 23, 2018, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Judge Steven O’Neill sentenced Cosby to three to 10 years for his crime of aggravated sexual assault.
“This was a serious crime,” Judge O’Neill said. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”
Cosby declined to speak to the court prior to the sentence. His attorneys have said they intend to file an appeal. Cosby’s bail was revoked and he was escorted from court in handcuffs.
At the end of 2014, sexual assault allegations about Cosby swirled in the media once more after stand up comedian Hannibal Buress joked about Cosby being a rapist and the video went viral.