Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial goes to the jury

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A Pennsylvania jury of seven men and five women was due to begin deliberations on Wednesday to decide whether to convict comedian and actor Bill Cosby of sexual assault, attempting to reach a verdict where a previous jury was hopelessly deadlocked.

Cosby, 80, the once-beloved comedian and TV dad who won over America on “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s, is on trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, 45, at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.

The jurors, 10 white and two black, heard closing arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers on Tuesday. Starting Wednesday, they will receive instructions from Montgomery County Judge Steven O‘Neill and begin their deliberations.

In his first trial last year, 12 different jurors deliberated five and a half days but remained deadlocked. The judge declared a mistrial, and prosecutors decided to try him again.

If convicted, Cosby, who has been free on bail, could be taken into custody immediately or may be allowed to remain out of jail until sentencing.

Sentencing guidelines

He faces up to 10 years in prison under state sentencing guidelines, although Pennsylvania law would allow the judge to impose up to three consecutive 10-year terms, one for each count.

In all, some 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault going back decades, though only Constand’s case was recent enough for criminal prosecution.

She testified that the comedian drugged and raped her in 2004 and that she was terrified to tell anyone for months afterward.

As in the first trial, Cosby declined to testify on his own behalf. He has denied wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact he had was consensual.

The first trial ended in mistrial last June, just before a flood of sexual assault and harassment accusations against rich and powerful men gave rise to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

The first trial was largely bereft of demonstrations, except for the occasional protester outside the courthouse. In contrast this time, outbursts and protests unfolded inside and outside the courtroom.

As Cosby approached the courthouse for the first day of the trial, a bare-breasted protester ran toward him shouting, “Women’s lives matter.”

Later, when testimony began, a woman who said Cosby accosted her when she was 17 looked directly at him from the witness stand and blurted out, “You know what you did, Mr. Cosby.” Her break with decorum drew a swift admonishment from the judge.