Bill Cosby dodged justice in the Andrea Constand sexual assault trial after the presiding judge, Steven T. O’Neill, declared a mistrial in the case today (June 17). The jury was “hopelessly deadlocked” on a verdict.
Montgomery County (Pa.) prosecutor Kevin Steele immediately announced that Cosby will face a retrial.
But there is no reason to celebrate the split-decision among jurors. The outcome is a blow to women, who are sexual assault victims, especially involving well-known celebrities.
Lawyers for Constand tried to put the best spin possible on the ruling. They thanked Steele, his assistants who worked on the case and the police officers who investigated the matter.
But they expressed bitterness as well.
“From the moment she revealed what happened to her, Andrea sought to have this matter addressed in the criminal justice system. Given the manner in which she was dismissed by the previous district attorney, she had no option but to file a civil suit,” they said in a statement.
“We are confident that these proceedings have given a voice to the many victims who felt powerless and silenced,” they added.
But all the mistrial did was recalled Jay Leno’s old joke. It takes two women to testify against a man in Saudi Arabia, but apparently 25 women aren’t enough to convict Bill Cosby.
During the 11-day trial, Cosby’s lawyers did not deny the substance of the allegations. The tarnished entertainer slipped Constand drugs that rendered her helpless, then proceeded to sexually assault her.
Instead, her lawyers flat-out accused her of lying. They also asserted that Cosby and Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball staffer, were involved in a prolonged affair, even though there was no evidence to back up that claim.
At the time, Cosby sat on the Philadelphia university’s board of trustees and donated heavily to the school. He even owned a house nearby.
The reaction among six other Cosby accusers in the courtroom audience was more telling. Many had tears in their eyes as they consoled Constand, according to The Washington Post.
Outside the courtroom, Cosby was greeted by supporters and his press aide triumphantly pumped his fist in the air.
One of the many similarities among victims allegedly assaulted by the comedian over the course of his six-decade career was the fact that nearly all of them were too intimidated to report their assaults.
The outcome of the 11-day trial offered little in the way of consolation. The scene was made even more despicable by a vengeful statement by Cosby’s long-suffering wife, Camille.
She could have easily put an end to Cosby’s predatory behavior, by simply calling him out on it. Instead, she remained silent over the years, even though she knew about his serial infidelities.
Camile called Steele “heinously and exploitatively ambitious” and “unethical.” She also branded O’Neill “overtly arrogant,” according to The Post.
The jury of seven men and five women, including two African Americans, deliberated for 52 hours over five days before declaring themselves “hopelessly deadlocked” on the three assault counts.
The fact that the trial did not end in acquittal could be considered a small victory for Constand and other alleged victims.
But the overall all message was loud and clear. Women who are sexually assaulted have a steep hill to climb to reach justice.