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Cosby case ends in mistrial

The judge has declared a mistrial in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case.

Five days and 52 hours of deliberation ended in a hung jury, leading Judge Steven O’Neill to rule Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case a mistrial.

Almost immediately, the prosecution announced its intention to retry the comedian and former Temple trustee.

The jury announced for the second time that they could not come to an agreement on any of the three counts against Cosby, saying they were “hopelessly deadlocked which cannot be resolved by further deliberations.” The news came at about 10:15 a.m on Saturday.

Cosby is free on bail but the charges are still in place.

“I have been nothing but extraordinarily impressed by you all,” O’Neill told the jury, adding that declaring a mistrial meant neither a victory nor a loss. “Mistrial is the justice system at work. Do not feel like you let the justice system down.  …  you should be proud of service you performed.”

O’Neill said after the mistrial ruling that he would attempt to set the case to continue within the next 100 days. He added that some rulings would be reexamined.

This means there is a chance for the prosecution to attempt to have more “bad act witnesses” testify during the next trial. Such a witness can testify about “bad acts” allegedly committed by the defendant as evidence to show motive, knowledge and preparation, among other things.

Outside the courtroom, standing at the top of the main steps, Cosby’s publicist read a statement from Camille Cosby — Bill Cosby’s wife — criticizing the judge, prosecution and attorneys of Cosby’s other accusers for their conduct through the trial.

“How do I describe the District Attorney? Heinously and exploitatively ambitious. How do I describe the judge? Overtly and arrogantly collaborating with the District Attorney. How do I describe the counsels for the accusers? Totally unethical.”

In a press conference afterward, prosecutor Kevin Steele declined to comment on the statement.

Steele instead emphasized his intention to pursue a retrial for the case and said Andrea Constand “indicated” she would be willing to return to the stand to testify.

“A charge is a charge,” he added when asked if he would retry Cosby but with lesser charges.

Cosby allegedly drugged and molested Constand in 2004. She was the director of operations for Temple’s women’s basketball team, and Cosby was a university trustee at the time of the alleged assault.  The university declined to comment on the case.

Cosby’s supporters and accusers stood on opposite sides of the courthouse steps Saturday morning after the ruling. Gloria Allred, an attorney representing Kelly Johnson — a “bad act witness” and Cosby accuser who testified during the trial — said Cosby should not feel comfortable with the ruling.

“I hope that the prosecution will try this case again and that the next time the court will permit more prior bad act witnesses to testify, as the prosecution had requested for this trial,” she said. “If the court allows more accusers to testify next time, it might make a difference. In other words, it’s too early to celebrate, Mr. Cosby.”

O’Neill only allowed Johnson to testify. The prosecution had asked to call 13 witnesses.

Allred is also handling a civil case against Cosby in California.

As Cosby left the Montgomery County Courthouse, a small group of his supporters cheered as he went past.

One SEPTA bus driver honked, spurring the group of Cosby supporters into another round of cheers minutes later. A different man slowed down as he passed the courthouse, shouting, “Cosby’s guilty! Those 60 women deserve justice!”

Julie Christie can be reached at julie.christie@temple.edu or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

Julie Christie

can be reached at julie.christie@temple.edu
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