Bill Cosby found guilty on aggravated indecent assault charges

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Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse during his retrial on sexual assault allegations. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 80 year old entertainer of sexual assault. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

Bill Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault allegations has ended in guilty verdicts. The panel of seven men and five women heard five hours of closing arguments on Tuesday and began deliberating Wednesday.

Cosby, 80, remains free on $1 million bond pending sentencing. He faces up to 10 years on each count. Before leaving the courthouse he cursed at the prosecutor.

ABC’s live coverage from the Pennsylvania courthouse where the trial took place aired live on Channel 2, with more coverage coming on the Channel 2 Action News at 4 p.m. broadcast.

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Cosby has faced mounting accusations from multiple women; this trial involved victim Andrea Constand, who was a Temple University employee she said Cosby assaulted her at his home in 2004. Media outlets generally don’t identify victims of sexual assault, but Constand and other Cosby accusers have come forward to share their stories and did not request anonymity. 

Janice Baker-Kinney posted this statement:

Cosby’s ties to Atlanta include a scholarship he and his wife endowed; AJC writer Rosalind Bentley reported in 2014 that the Cosby Chair for the Humanities at Spelman College, funded in part by a $20 million gift that Bill and Camille Cosby gave to the school in the 1980s, was suspended amid a raft of sexual assault allegations.

Bill Cosby at Spelman College’s 2006 graduation. AJC file photo: Allen Sullivan

 

At his last public appearance in Atlanta, in 2015, protesters came out to the performance venue, where security was tight.

On stage that night, Cosby told classic stories about his childhood along with more recent anecdotes, while nearly a dozen security and staff members patrolled the audience to make sure no one took photos or posted anything to social media, AJC radio/TV reporter Rodney Ho noted.

Following the verdict announcement, National Sexual Violence Resource Center Chief Public Affairs Officer Kristen Houser issued a statement calling it “a long-awaited and symbolic victory for many survivors of sexual violence.  It brings hope that justice can be served when victims are finally ready to enter the court system, that it is possible for the truth to be heard, even if it is years after the assault.

“Sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem that has a lasting impact on individuals, families and communities and burdens our society with major health and safety issues,” Houser said. “It is vital to our society that we continue to hold those who commit sexual violence accountable, regardless of their position in the community, their power, their fame, or their wealth. The effective investigation and prosecution of cases at every level is key to changing the way our society responds to survivors of assault.”

A 2017 trial ended in mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a verdict. Afterward, a Cosby surrogate said during an interview with a Birmingham, Ala. television station that he wanted to launch a series of town hall meetings meant to help people avoid situations that would land them in the defendant’s chair.

“People need to be educated. A brush against the shoulder – anything at this point – can be considered sexual assault,” said Cosby spokesperson Ebonee Benson during a visit to Birmingham, Ala. station WBRC.

She has served as spokesperson for Bill Cosby’s wife Camille Cosby, and delivered Mrs. Cosby’s forceful statement blasting the judge, district attorney and the media after the trial ended.

“Seeing Mrs. Cosby in the courtroom .. resonated with the jury,” Benson said. “It took away the celebrity aspect and made them more like regular people. Everyone has problems in a marriage.”

Cosby thanked the station for featuring the two spokespeople, who are Birmingham natives, in a pair of tweets, but the town hall gatherings never happened. He hasn’t said much publicly and declined to clearly defend himself during an expansive, often rambling interview with Sirius XM radio host Michael Smerconish ahead of his first trial.

Did he expect to testify?

“No, I do not.” (He didn’t).

“Are you at liberty to discuss any of the allegations that are pending against you?” Smerconish asked.

“No, I am not,” Cosby answered.

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Throughout the interview he alludes to proscriptions his lawyers have imposed on what he can say, but when Smerconish asks if he wants to tell his side of things, Cosby says, simply, “No.”

“Once again I go back to lawyers,” he said. “When you have to deal with examination, cross examination, (there’s) more than two sides to every story. Sometimes it’s four or five. I just don’t want to sit there and have to figure out what I believe is a truthful answer.”

“Cosby kid” Keshia Knight Pulliam. who now lives in Atlanta, has been a vocal Cosby supporter. 

“It’s easy to be there for someone when things are good,” she said during a 2017 appearance on the “Today” show. “I wanted to do what I would have wanted to receive.”

She walked with him into court during last year’s trial and sat through opening arguments.

“It was important for me to be there,” said Pulliam, who played Rudy as a child on “The Cosby Show” back in the day. “I truly believe you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

She does not dismiss the serious allegations her television father faces.

“As a woman, as a graduate of Spelman College … and being the mother to a daughter it’s nothing I take lightly or that I condone in any way, shape or form,” she said. “He’s clear that yes, he has been unfaithful to his wife. Ultimately if she chooses to forgive him for those things, that’s between the two of them.”

If the jury returns a guilty verdict, Pulliam said, she’ll be “disappointed” but it won’t change her regard for Cosby.

“People falter,” she said. “People make mistakes. Things happen.”


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