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17 Jun 2017

BREAKING NEWS: Cosby Leaves Court After Mistrial Declared

A Pennsylvania judge declared a mistrial Saturday in the case against Bill Cosby after a jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision, an inconclusive finale to one of the most high-profile sexual assault cases in years.

Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in an incident involving former Temple University basketball staffer Andrea Constand at his home in suburban Philadelphia in 2004.

Over the past 10 days, jurors heard the entertainer's defense that the encounter was consensual, while Constand, taking the stand and facing Cosby for the first time, testified that Cosby drugged her and robbed her of the ability to consent.

Had he been found guilty, Cosby, 79, would have faced a maximum of 10 years in prison for each count.

Prosecutors said immediately they would re-try the case, and Judge Steve T. O’Neill said he would try to schedule a new trial within 120 days.

The judge had initially sent jurors back Thursday after they first reported a deadlock. But he finally concluded Saturday that they could not reach a verdict.

“Do you agree that there’s a hopeless deadlock that cannot be resolved by further deliberations?" he asked after calling the jurors in a little after 10 a.m. All jurors said yes, and O’Neil said, "After 52 hours of deliberation, which is probably one of the most courageous, selfless acts I've ever seen in the criminal justice system, I'm compelled to grant a mistrial."

Victims’ rights groups had looked to the Cosby case as a milestone in a climate in which sexual violence by powerful men has historically gone unpunished. The failure to reach a verdict promises to be especially frustrating to the 60-some women who have stepped forward in the last 2½ years to accuse Cosby of similar acts.

Cosby has contended from the beginning that he and Constand were involved in a romantic relationship and there was no coercion.

The jury — seven men and five women from the Pittsburgh area, including two African Americans — spent more than four days deliberating, asking for large portions of testimony to be reread aloud in court.

“Each of you has a duty to consult with one another and to deliberate with a view to reaching an agreement if it can be done without violence to your individual judgment,” O'Neill told the jury after their initial deadlock. But such efforts proved fruitless.

The defense had tried to sow reasonable doubt by pointing out inconsistencies in Constand’s account, particularly with respect to the date of the alleged attack. They pointed out that she and Cosby maintained contact for months after the alleged attack.

The prosecutor in the case, Montgomery County Dist. Atty. Kevin Steele, will have to decide whether to retry the case with another jury.The prosecution brought in expert witnesses who said that maintaining such contact is common among people who have been sexually assaulted by someone they know. It also fortified its case with testimony from Constand's mother and another Cosby accuser, the former Hollywood agent’s assistant Kelly Johnson, who testified she was the victim of a similar assault by Cosby.

Over more than a week of testimony, jurors heard from a number of experts, police officers and accusers, as well as portions of a deposition and the police interview with Cosby.

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