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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting woman; after verdict, comedian lashes out at prosecutor

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published April 26, 2018 at 12:53 p.m. Updated April 26, 2018 at 1:29 p.m.

bill-cosby-arrives-for-his-sexual-assault-retrial-thursday-april-26-2018-at-the-montgomery-county-courthouse-in-norristown-pa-ap-photomatt-slocum

Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault retrial, Thursday, April 26, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America's Dad.

Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.

Cosby listened to the verdict stoically, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an "a--hole" after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.

The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, "You remember, don't you, Mr. Cosby?"

The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors' decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.

Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.

Constand, 45, a former Temple women's basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called "your friends" and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.

It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.

"The time for the defendant to escape justice is over," prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. "It's finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences."

Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was "nothing like the image that he played on TV" as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show.

Cosby's retrial took place against the backdrop of #MeToo, the movement against sexual misconduct that has taken down powerful men in rapid succession, among them Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey and Sen. Al Franken.

The jurors all indicated they were aware of #MeToo but said before the trial they could remain impartial. Cosby's lawyers slammed #MeToo, calling Cosby its victim and likening it to a witch hunt or a lynching.

After failing to win a conviction last year, prosecutors had more courtroom weapons at their disposal for the retrial. The other accusers' testimony helped move the case beyond a he-said, she-said, allowing prosecutors to argue that Cosby was a menace to women long before he met Constand. Only one other accuser was permitted to testify at Cosby's first trial.

Cosby's new defense team, led by Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, launched a highly aggressive attack on Constand and the other women.

Their star witness, a longtime Temple employee, testified that Constand once spoke of setting up a prominent person and suing. Constand sued Cosby after prosecutors initially declined to file charges, settling with him for nearly $3.4 million over a decade ago.

"You're dealing with a pathological liar," Mesereau told the jury.

His colleague on the defense team, Katheen Bliss, derided the other accusers as home-wreckers and suggested they made up their stories in a bid for money and fame.

But Cosby himself had long ago confirmed sordid revelations about drugs and extramarital sex.

In a deposition he gave over a decade ago as part of Constand's lawsuit, Cosby acknowledged he had obtained quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with, "the same as a person would say, 'Have a drink.'" The sedative was a popular party drug before the U.S. banned it more than 30 years ago.

Cosby also acknowledged giving pills to Constand before their sexual encounter. But he identified them as the over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine Benadryl and insisted they were meant to help her relax.

The entertainer broke racial barriers as the first black actor to star in a network show, "I Spy," in the 1960s. He created the top-ranked Cosby Show two decades later. He also found success with his "Fat Albert" animated TV show and served as pitchman for Jello-O pudding.

Later in his career, he attracted controversy for lecturing about social dysfunction in poor black neighborhoods, railing against young people stealing things and wearing baggy pants.

It was Cosby's reputation as a public moralist that prompted a federal judge, acting in response to a request from The Associated Press, to unseal portions of the deposition.

Its release helped destroy the Cosby Show star's career and good-guy image. It also prompted authorities to reopen the criminal investigation, and he was charged in late 2015.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission. Constand has done so.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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gagewatcher says... April 26, 2018 at 1:36 p.m.

as a woman, grandmother, with a daughter and a granddaughter I am wondering why all of the women accusers thought it was okay to be at Mr Cosby's home or other places with him without his wife present and why in the world would they accept pills (his little friends) from him .if he is guilty he is getting what he deserves. but I am wondering how exactly all of these women could be so darn stupid ?

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weona says... April 26, 2018 at 1:39 p.m.

With the statute of limitation s having run out how was he charged?

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hogfan2012 says... April 26, 2018 at 2 p.m.

gagewatcher - back then they were known as "groupies" who knowingly put themselves in the position to sleep with a superstar. Not saying that what he did was right, but I don't believe at the time it happened that the women thought it was wrong. This is one time that having social media 30 years ago may have told a completely different story on these "innocent" women.

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Packman says... April 26, 2018 at 2:15 p.m.

The verdict reeks of racism. No way a white guy gets convicted based on the evidence. No way!

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malice06220956 says... April 26, 2018 at 2:27 p.m.

This entire thing bothers me. I know he has a wholesome public image - but I have no doubt he has been sexually promiscuous with other women outside his marriage. Why would he need to drug them to fool around? Something doesn't sound right. My biggest doubts came when the women suing hired Gloria Allred. Look in the dictionary under sleazy lawyers - Gloria is the poster child. I immediately question the honesty of any person who would hire her as their attorney.

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sjmays says... April 26, 2018 at 2:30 p.m.

A young woman being alone with "America's Dad" may have felt she had nothing to fear. Most people have been young and naive once.

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bglolani says... April 26, 2018 at 3:02 p.m.

I don't care if they were young and naive. Why wait 20-30 years to file charges? Some of these women were looking for a big paycheck...

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hah406 says... April 26, 2018 at 3:31 p.m.

Regarding the criminal charges that he was convicted on today, she was the only accuser for whom the statute of limitations had not run out. The DA who charged him ran on a platform of charging him when his predecessor would not. I don't think he gave them pills either. I thought he dissolved them in a drink, but I could be wrong. As for waiting 20 - 30 years, I don't know but one woman said she went to the police like 15 years ago, a month or so after something happened, and they laughed at her and told her to go away. So who knows...

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PopMom says... April 26, 2018 at 4:41 p.m.

gagewatcher,

Maybe they thought his wife would be present? Sometimes women have legitimate reasons to interact with men professionally. I've dropped off materials for a law partner who was at home etc. (but the wife was indeed there). I do remember one or accusers were asked to visit him to read a script. (Weinstein used this as well.) I will agree that I've avoided going to a man's house, and it is risky to put yourself in this position. Young women often are naive about men. They now have to guard their drinks at parties because men are dropping drugs into them. It's best not to blame victims, and this sort of blame game is why many do not come forward.

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DoubleBlind says... April 26, 2018 at 4:48 p.m.

Wow. The misogynistic and gynophobe victim blaming in prior comments is appalling. Women in the workplace are placed in positions every day where they are alone with a male employer or colleagues. Some commenters here sound like Sharia shills.

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