Bill Cosby’s Jury In 2004 Rape Trial Adjourns For Night With No Verdict

by Dominic Patten

After four hours of deliberation today, the jury in Bill Cosby’s criminal trial for the 2004 rape of Andrea Constand has wrapped for the night without reaching a verdict. The jury of seven men and five women will resume Tuesday at 9 AM ET, the court said, leaving Cosby’s fate left to linger at least another day. The actor faces up to 10 years behind bars if found guilty.

UPDATE, 1:46 PM: “I would suggest to you that Andrea Constand is a victim,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told the jury in his closing argument today in Bill Cosby’s criminal trial for the alleged rape of the then Temple University employee. “A victim that has come before you and bared something very personal and very hard for us all to see,” added Steele. Getting to the heart of the case, the D.A. said that the jury had to stay focused on the fact that there was a “lack of consent” by Constand to Cosby’s molestation.

“This is a very straightforward case,” Steele asserted of the three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault against Constand that could see the 79-year-old Cosby behind bars for more than 10 years if found guilty. “If you have sexual relations with someone when they’re out, when they’re asleep, when they’re unconscious that’s a crime,” the D.A. hit home to the seven men and five women of the jury in his over two-hour remarks Monday afternoon. “That is a crime because that person is not consenting to what that person is doing,” he added. “They’re not capable of it … a woman’s got a right. She can say no.”

 “The testimony of her alone is enough to sustain a conviction in this case,” Steele claimed in the Norristown, PA courtroom Monday. “And I suggest to you that you should convict the defendant based simply on her testimony,” the often low key D.A. told the jurors this afternoon as Cosby and his wife Camille, in the courtroom for the first time during the trial, sat nearby. “Simply on what she came in here and told you.”

The jury will now receive their instructions from Judge Steven O’Neill before beginning their deliberations today.

On the stand for nearly 10 hours last week, Constand has said that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Philadelphia-area mansion in 2004, a claim she first made back in 2005. While admitting in past depositions read out to the jury that he gave Constand several Benadryl pills that January 2004 night, The Cosby Show creator says the incident was always consensual. In the often very loud closing argument by lawyer Brian McMonagle earlier Monday, the defense lawyer contended that Cosby and Constand were actually involved in a romantic relationship.

Of course, Steele didn’t entirely rely on the testimony of Andrea Constand to make his case on Monday. The D.A. spoke of the time that fellow Cosby accuser Kelly Johnson spent on the stand in the first week of the trial detailing the alleged drugging and sexual assault she says she suffered at Cosby’s hands in 1996.

Like the prosecution had during the trial’s first week, Steele played a taped 2005 telephone call between Cosby and Constand’s mother for the jury. After the 12 jurors and everyone else in Judge Steven O’Neill’s courtroom heard the rough recording where Cosby promised to “set up something” for Constand like paying for graduate school and to send the family the name of the medication he gave Constand, which he never provided them, Steele called out the actor’s behavior as “consciousness of guilt” and “trying to make amends.” He also played a follow-up call to the Constands in 2005 from Cosby’s then lawyer Marty Singer on setting up an educational fund for Andrea.

Due to the longer than usual 12-year duration of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for sex crimes, the trial in Judge O’Neill’s courtroom in the Philly suburb is the only criminal case in the nation against the once revered The Cosby Show actor. While over 60 women have come out in recent years and publicly accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the decades and are pursuing civil cases, all of those incidents occurred in jurisdictions where the statute for criminal proceedings has expired.

The fact that the defense put up a less than 10-minute case this morning suggests that they are going for the Hail Mary of the doubt-planting closing argument by Brian McMonagle this morning. Despite weighing putting Cosby himself on the stand after the actor said in May that he would not testify in his own defense, the lawyers ultimately decided it was too big a risk – especially after the police interviews and depositions from the defendant in Constand’s subsequently settled civil case against Cosby were read aloud for hours in the court last week.

Expected to go at least two weeks, the trial which began June 5, has now finished in exactly a week – though no one knows how long it will take to see a verdict from the jury.

PREVIOUSLY, 10:17 AM: “This case is over,” defense lawyer Brian McMonagle told jurors today in closing arguments at Bill Crosby’s criminal trial for the alleged 2004 rape of Andrea Constand. “The evidence is in and if you have hesitation on whether they’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt a crime occurred and he committed it, then you must acquit,” the attorney added, addressing the seven men and five women of the jury this morning in the Norristown, PA courtroom.

“If at the end of a criminal trial you’ve got more questions than you’ve got answers, you’ve got reasonable doubt,” the bombastic McMonagle also said in his nearly two-hour chair pounding closing argument before the jurors and Judge Steven O”Neill. “I want you to know he’s innocent,” the lawyer said.

Repeating Cosby’s insistence in depositions that he and Constand were lovers, McMonagle put another woman’s face to the actor’s behavior. “When you dance outside your marriage, you got to pay the band,” he said. “And he danced and she deserved better,” McMonagle added, directly pointing at Cosby’s wife Camille, who showed up in court for the first time today.

If Cosby is not acquitted and receives a guilty verdict for the three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault against the then Temple University employee, the 79-year-old actor could face more than 10-years behind bars. The suburban Philadelphia-based trial is the only criminal case in the nation against the much-accused Cosby, who has seen more than 60 women go public in recent years with claims of being drugged and/or sexually assaulted by the actor in instances going back to the late ’60s.

With the defense resting its case in the opening hour of the start of Week 2 of the trial and Cosby himself finally deciding not to take the stand, Monday’s remarks by McMonagle were a bit of déjà vu for the jury. In a case that has gone much faster than expected, it was merely a week ago in the Montgomery County courtroom that the jurors and judge heard opening statements from both Deputy D.A. Kristen Feden and Cosby lawyer McMonagle. Then, like today and throughout the trial and pre-trial hearings since being arraigned on December 30, 2015, Cosby sat with his legal team at the front of the colonial style courtroom on the third floor of the courthouse.

As the jury and judge heard last week, Cosby admitted in depositions in Constand’s civil case of over a decade ago that he previously had given Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with, and that he gave the Temple basketball staffer at least two Benadryl supposedly for stress. Despite that deposition and a police interview from early 2005 after the Constand family found out about the incident of early 2004 and reported it, Cosby has insisted that what happened that night over 13 years ago was always consensual.

“He has sworn time and time again ‘I never drugged that woman,’” McMonagle reminded the jury today, reiterating Cosby’s claim that “I gave her Benadryl because she was not sleeping.”

With Andrea Constand and her mother Gianna both giving strong testimony on the stand last week, the defense lawyer took one last stab at opening the wound of inconsistencies in the former Temple University staffer’s story. “Ms. Constand she said one thing yesterday, another thing today,” McMonagle implored. “What is she going to say tomorrow?”

Of course, Cosby once settled the matter with Constand before newly elected D.A. Kevin Steel hauled the actor in at the end of 2015 to beat Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations on sex crimes.

After then-Montgomery County D.A. Bruce Cantor declined to prosecute the case in 2005 but made a deal with Cosby’s then lawyer, who is now deceased, that the actor would not take the 5th, a subsequent civil case saw Cosby paying Constand an undisclosed settlement. A settlement that Cosby at one point sued her, her mother and her then-lawyers in federal court to get back, claiming Constand had broken the confidentiality agreement of the civil case. Cosby dropped that case last summer as his efforts to stop the criminal case failed again and again.

A failure, like the case itself and the accusations that Cosby has been the subject of the past several years, that McMonagle today blamed on the accusers and the media. “You know why we’re here?” he asked the jury in today’s closing argument. “Let’s look each other in the eye and talk about why we’re here,” he added dramatically. “We’re not here because of Andrea Constand. That was over in 2005. We’re here because of this nonsense. We’re here because of them,” McMonagle concluded, pointing at onlookers in the courtroom, including members of the press and other women who have said Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted them.

The prosecution will give its closing arguments this afternoon and then Judge O’Neill will issue instructions to the jury to begin deliberations.

Anna Orso contributed to this report.

 

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