After fewer than two days of deliberation, a Pennsylvania jury has declared the actor and comedian Bill Cosby guilty in connection with a 2004 sexual abuse incident at his suburban Philadelphia home.
Cosby, 80, faces a possible maximum prison sentence of 15 to 30 years.
The verdict came as vindication for dozens of women who have publicly accused Cosby of sexual abuse, harassment or attempted abuse and seemed destined to stand as a milestone in the #MeToo movement against sexual assault.
A trial on the same charges last summer ended in a mistrial with a hung jury.
Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand, a former basketball player who was 30 years old at the time of the alleged incident. Cosby said the two had a consensual relationship.
Five women in addition to Constand testified for the prosecution at the trial that Cosby had assaulted them.
But the defense team called into question the motives and characters of Cosby’s accusers, branding Constand a “pathological liar” and declaring of one supporting witness: “It sounds as though she slept with every single man on the planet.”
The verdict completes a dramatic downfall for one of America’s most popular and beloved entertainers.
Cosby’s accusers have described alleged sexual assaults by him involving sedatives from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Dozens of new accusers stepped forward after video circulated of an October 2014 stand-up routine in Philadelphia, Cosby’s hometown, in which the comedian Hannibal Buress riffed on rape accusations against Cosby.
Soon after, transcripts emerged of depositions that Cosby had given in 2005 and 2006, when he was the defendant in a civil lawsuit brought by Constand that he would ultimately settle for $3.4m.
In a September 2005 deposition, Cosby acknowledged that he had, in the past, obtained seven prescriptions in his name for Quaaludes – a powerful sedative – that he never intended to take himself.
The deposition transcripts contained this exchange between Cosby and the plaintiff’s attorney Dolores Troiani:
Troiani: When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?
Asked by police whether he had ever had sexual intercourse with Constand, Cosby replied, according to court documents: “Never asleep nor awake.”
Cosby was a successful standup comedian and film actor and starred in hit television shows including Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and The Cosby Show. He was also a Jell-O pitchman and later a public moralist. In 2006, he embarked on a 20-city “Call Out with Bill Cosby” tour in which he diagnosed moral failings among low-income African-Americans and largely dismissed the impacts of systemic discrimination.
Cosby’s career collapse began before his first trial in June 2017, in which a jury deliberated for five and a half-days before declaring themselves unable to reach a verdict.
Prior to that trial, a planned standup comedy tour featuring Cosby was cancelled, as were a planned NBC sitcom and a Netflix special, and more than 20 universities rescinded honorary degrees. The DC institution Ben’s Chili Bowl painted over a famous outdoor mural of African American leaders that had prominently featured him.
Amid a growing public reckoning with sexual assault and discrimination prompted by the #MeToo movement, the Cosby trial took on broad social overtones.
As Cosby arrived at the courthouse as the trial began, a topless protester with “Women’s Lives Matter” and other phrases written across her body jumped a barricade near him and was arrested.
In their closing arguments, Cosby’s lawyers encouraged jurors not to make Cosby a scapegoat. The lead defense lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr, who successfully represented Michael Jackson on molestation charges in 2005, said the case was based on “shallow nonsense. Because that’s what our country is full of at the moment.”
But the prosecution, in its summing up, had slammed Cosby as “nothing like the image he plays on TV”.
The assistant district attorney Kristen Feden said in an impassioned address to the jury of seven men and five women: “He utilized that image and cloaked it around himself, so he could gain the trust of young, unsuspecting women to sexually assault them and strip their ability to say no.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
ATLANTA POLICE OFFICER SHOOTS A MAN DEAD AT A FAST-FOOD DRIVE-THRU
An Atlanta police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy’s drive-thru Friday night.
(CNN) — An Atlanta police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy’s drive-thru Friday night after he resisted arrest and struggled for an officer’s Taser, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
The GBI identified the slain man as Rayshard Brooks, 27, of Atlanta.
The killing comes amid global protests and discussion of police use of force following the death of George Floyd last month in custody in Minneapolis. Atlanta has seen frequent protests, including some that turned violent.
Six Atlanta Police Department officers were facing charges of using excessive force during one, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced June 2. Two of the officers were fired by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Friday, officers responded to a call at 10:33 p.m. about a man sleeping in a parked vehicle in the drive-thru, causing other customers to drive around it, the GBI said in a statement.
Police gave Brooks a field sobriety test, which he failed, the GBI said. He resisted arrest and struggled with officers, the GBI said.
An officer drew his Taser and, witnesses said, the man grabbed it, the statement said. An officer then shot him.
Brooks was taken to a hospital, where he died, the statement said.
One officer was treated for an injury and released, the GBI said.
The GBI is investigating at the request of the APD, the statement said. Once completed, the case will be turned over to prosecutors for review.
CNN has reached out to the APD, GBI and the mayor’s office but they have not responded.
CNN affiliate WSB reports this is the 48th police shooting the GBI has investigated in 2020
Bo Dukes Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Covering Up Death of Tara Grinstead
ABBEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A man convicted of helping hide the death of a missing Georgia teacher has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
News outlets reported that 34-year-old Bo Dukes was sentenced Friday morning in court in Abbeville.
Dukes was convicted Thursday night of lying to investigators about the 2005 death of Tara Grinstead. The high school history teacher’s body was burned to ash and bone fragments in a pecan orchard.
What happened to the woman wasn’t revealed until Dukes and another man were arrested in 2017.
Dukes was convicted of two counts of making a false statement, hindering the arrest of a criminal and concealing a death.
His co-defendant, Ryan Alexander Duke, is charged with murder in Grinstead’s death and is scheduled for trial April 1 in Irwin County.
US Supreme Court Agrees To Decide Whether Lee Boyd Malvo Gets A New Sentence
March 18 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a gunman in the 2002 Beltway Sniper case should receive a new sentence because he was a teenager at the time.
The random shootings terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in September and October 2002 and killed 10 people. Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad were ultimately captured and convicted of the sniper killings. Muhammad was executed in 2009 and Malvo is serving six consecutive life sentences. At the time of the shootings, Malvo was 17.
The Supreme Court issued a writ of certiorari Monday to hear the appeal next term.
At issue is a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that said juveniles cannot be given mandatory life-without-parole sentences unless they committed murder or were determined permanently incorrigible.
A Virginia court last year vacated Malvo’s sentences and asked a trial court to rule on whether his crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility or “the transient nature of youth.”
Malvo is now 34 years old.
A U.S. Court of Appeals panel called the Beltway shootings “the most heinous, random acts of premeditated violence conceivable, destroying lives and families and terrorizing the entire Washington D.C., metropolitan area for over six weeks, instilling mortal fear daily in the citizens of that community.”
The judges said, “Malvo was 17 years old when he committed the murders, and he now has the retroactive benefit of new constitutional rules that treat juveniles differently for sentencing.”
Malvo faces life without parole in Maryland, where he killed six people. That sentence was upheld in 2017 and is pending at the state Supreme Court. Muhammad, who was 25 years older than Malvo, smuggled him into the country illegally from Antigua.