The trial of comedian Bill Cosby took a surprising and dramatic turn Saturday morning when Judge Steven T. O’Neill declared mistrial due to a “hopelessly deadlocked” trial, reports Deadline. The criminal trial of was to determine Cosby’s guilt in the case of the 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand. Constand, who worked as an employee of Temple University’s basketball program, accused Cosby of drugging her and then molesting her.
The jury began deliberations on Monday and toiled over 50 hours before becoming deadlocked on Thursday. Judge O’Neill ordered them to try again, though it was to no avail, as the jury got no further and could not reach the required unanimous verdict. As a result, mistrial was officially declared this morning. Judge O’Neill stated in defense of his decision, “After 52 hours of deliberation [by the jury], probably one of the most courageous acts I’ve ever seen, I’m compelled to grant a mistrial.”
Bill Cosby is best known for his character Dr. Cliff Hustbale on The Cosby Show, which ran for eight seasons from 1984 to 1992. Over sixty women have come out since Andrea Constand’s allegations to claim Cosby committed similar assaults on them as well. Judge O’Neill released Cosby free on bail after declaring mistrial.
The jury had several rocky moments over the past week as they tried to reach a verdict, stopping to ask the definition for “reasonable doubt” as well as repeatedly asking to see different sources of evidence and requesting rereads of certain testimonies, such as excerpts from Constand’s testimony given last week. Constand took the stand for almost 10 hours between June 6th and 7th to describe her experiences with Cosby. Cosby himself did not testify during this trial, although he did give testimony back in 2005 during a civil case between himself and Constand. During this testimony, Cosby admitted to giving Constand Benadryl pills (which he referred to as his “little friends”). Cosby’s 2005 testimony was a key piece to the prosecution during the criminal trial.
In a rather risky move, the defense rested its case under 10 minutes on the 12th, while the prosecution went for longer in its closing statement. D.A. Kevin Steele argued that, “This is a very straightforward case. If you have sexual relations with someone when they’re out, when they’re asleep, when they’re unconscious, that’s a crime.” The jury did not seem to agree that the case was so straightforward, considering today’s events.
Since the release of the decision, there has been plenty of speculation into exactly what factors contributed to this mistrial. Nevertheless, the Montgomery County D.A. Office quickly took to Twitter once the decision was released and confirmed that the prosecution will retry the case.
DA Steele announces we will retry this case.
— Montgomery County DA (@MontcopaDA) June 17, 2017
Upon the announcement of mistrial, D.A. Steele stated, “We will evaluate and review our case. We will take a hard look at everything involved, and then we will retry it. As I said in court, our plan is to move this case forward as soon as possible.” Gloria Allred, an attorney for the wide number of women accusing Cosby of similar instances of assault, said she will continue to press the case as well, and urged Cosby’s attorneys (who publicly stated that the mistrial indicates that “Cosby’s power is back”) not to rest too easy. “We can never underestimate the blinding power of celebrity,” Allred proclaimed. “But justice will come… It’s too early to celebrate, Mr. Cosby.”