The retrial of comedian Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges begins April 9.
Cosby’s first trial on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball official, ended in a mistrial on June 17.
Jurors deliberated for 52 hours but said they were hopelessly deadlocked. After the mistrial was declared, Montgomery County, Pa., District Attorney Kevin Steele immediately announced that he would retry Cosby.
Like the first trial, Cosby will be tried again in Norristown, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia.
Cosby is accused of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in early 2004. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
At least 60 women have publicly accused Cosby of rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment between the 1960s and 2000s. The statutes of limitation have expired for most of their cases, preventing the accusers from seeking criminal charges. Criminal charges were filed against Cosby in the Constand case just before the expiration of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations.
In March, the judge overseeing the case said that he would allow five previous accusers to testify as prosecution witnesses. During the first trial, only one previous accuser was allowed to testify.
The ruling by Judge Steven T. O’Neill gives prosecutors a huge opening to press their argument that Cosby is a serial sexual assaulter.
In the first trial, the jury was selected in Pittsburgh because of defense concerns about pretrial publicity in the Philadelphia area. This time, the defense did not ask for the jury to be selected in another jurisdiction, so the panel will be culled from the same area — Montgomery County, Pa. — where the retrial will be held.
Cosby’s legal team
Cosby’s defense is now headed by Thomas Mesereau, a famed Los Angeles attorney who won an acquittal for pop star Michael Jackson on child molestation charges.
His previous defense team was led by Brian McMonagle, a highly respected Philadelphia defense attorney. During the first trial, McMonagle lambasted the media for giving a forum to 60 women who have publicly accused Cosby of harassment, sexual assault or rape. McMonagle, who at times seemed to clash with Cosby’s public relations team, withdrew from the case after the mistrial without explanation.
Cosby did not take the stand in the first trial, and defendants are not required to testify. However, the comedian is extremely adept at charming audiences. The defense could decide that the risks of testifying would be outweighed by the benefits of having him speak directly to the jury. The comedian could also earn sympathy points because he claims to be legally blind.
• Andrea Constand testified at the first trial in a voice that cracked with emotion. Fighting back tears, she described how her vision blurred after Cosby gave her pills: "I told Mr. Cosby that I had trouble seeing him,” she told jurors. “I could see two of him.”
But under cross-examination, Constand struggled to explain inconsistencies in her statements to investigators — including the date of the alleged assault and whether she maintained contact with Cosby.
• Her mother, Gianna Constand, also testified during the first trial. She told jurors about a call she secretly recorded with Cosby and about other conversations with the man she believes sexually assaulted her daughter. She told jurors that Cosby told her in a call she did not record that "he was sorry for what he did.”
Prosecutors have signaled that they do not plan to call Kelley Johnson, the one previous accuser who was allowed to testify at Cosby’s first trial. This time, prosecutors will call five women who allege they were sexually assaulted by Cosby between 1982 and the mid-1990s.
• The best known accuser is Janice Dickinson, a former supermodel who has made frequent and often emotional television appearances to lay out her claim that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at a Lake Tahoe hotel. Dickinson says Cosby gave her a blue pill that immobilized her arms and legs and left her unconscious, and that she awoke with a “sharp pain in her buttocks.”
• Janice Baker-Kinney was a bartender at Harrah’s Reno. She says she became “fuzzy” and “woozy” after taking two pills at a house in Reno where Cosby had lured her with promises of a party that never materialized.
• Heidi Thomas, a model who also is slated to testify, says she, too, was drugged and assaulted by Cosby in Reno.