On Saturday Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial in the sexual assault case against beloved comedian and television star Bill Cosby. The jury had deliberated for 52 hours over a six-day period before informing the judge that they remained “hopelessly deadlocked.”
Cosby stood trial, accused of drugging and molesting a female acquaintance named Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby and Constand met at the comic’s alma mater, Temple University, where Constand worked at the time. She claimed Cosby drugged and fondled her at his home.
Cosby did not testify on his own behalf but allowed his attorney to make the case that the acts between the two parties were consensual. He claimed that he gave Constand tablets of Benadryl, but prosecutors claimed that the comedian gave her a stronger substance.
Constand initially went to authorities about her encounter with Cosby roughly a year after it took place, but the case did not go to trial until a decade later, when a new district attorney reopened the case in light of new evidence. Constand is the only one of more than 60 women who have accused Cosby of assault whose case has gone to trial.
Prosecutors have promised to retry the case within the next 120 days, and Cosby went home on $1 million bail. Fox News reported the district attorney’s statement to the press:
“We will revaluate and review our case and will retry it and move as soon as possible,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told reporters.
He praised the accuser and said she is “entitled to a verdict in this case.”
Cosby’s wife Camille issued a statement following the mistrial in which she decried the “arrogance” of the judge and the ambition of the prosecuting team, and she called the case an “injustice.”
Bill Cosby himself did not speak to the media, but the statement from his spokesman — with the comedian standing directly behind him — was bizarre in its own pomposity, as relayed by Fox News:
“In the words of Huey P. Newton, power is the ability to define phenomenon, making it act in a designed manner,” Wyatt said.
“Mr. Cosby’s power is back… the jurors, they used their power to speak… Mrs. [Camille] Cosby’s power is back,” he said.
The spokesman also accused high-profile women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred of conspiring against Cosby.
“For all those attorneys, who conspire like Gloria Allred, tell them to go back to law school and take another class,” he said.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 17, 2017
Allred herself gave a briefing to reporters outside the courtroom, stating that “justice will come.”
The Cosby case has rocked two generations of American pop culture lovers. Baby boomers remember Cosby as a trailblazing stand-up comedian, relaying hilarious, usually family-friendly tales of his childhood and of his travails as a husband and father. In 1965, he became the first black actor to headline a dramatic television series, I Spy, and he won three consecutive Emmy awards for his work on that show.
After the Fat Albert animated series in the ’70s, Cosby returned to liv- action television on The Cosby Show. The series revolutionized sitcoms with its portrayal of an upper-middle class black family; it revived the struggling NBC network and was a ratings juggernaut for much of its eight-season run.
Cosby served as a father figure for many Generation X kids until the assault allegations rocked his career. Since the accusations began in 2014, The Cosby Show disappeared from syndication and cable outlets (though it’s still available for streaming on Hulu). Netflix cancelled a live stand-up special in 2015, and NBC rescinded an offer for a new comedy series starring Cosby the same year.
After the mistrial, questions remain. Will Constand see justice upon a retrial, or will Cosby find himself vindicated? Will he regain his once sterling reputation as a family man and entertainment legend? Stay tuned as we see what happens next.