What Happens Now That Bill Cosby Was Convicted on All 3 Counts?
In the first major sexual assault trial of the #MeToo era, Bill Cosby has been found guilty of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004. The Hollywood Reporter says that after 14 hours of deliberation, a Pennsylvania jury returned with the verdict: guilty on three counts of sexual assault.
Last June, a different jury deadlocked, leading the court to declare a mistrial in the case against Cosby. This time the basic tenants of the case remained the same, but new evidence was admitted for the jury to consider. Last year, just one woman who had accused Cosby of drugging and assaulting her was allowed to take the stand and testify that this behavior was a pattern for the accused. This time, five women were allowed to testify.
A former Temple University colleague of Constand's also testified. The witness claimed that the accuser privately admitted to framing Cosby to extract a settlement. It was revealed during the trial that in 2006, Cosby paid Constand nearly $3.4 million to settle her civil claims.
Over two dozen witnesses took the stand in this trial, though Cosby himself did not testify. His lawyers attempted to convince the jury that he was out of town on the night of the incident in 2004.
Now that he has been convicted, Cosby awaits sentencing by the judge overseeing the case. Each sexual assault charge carries a prison term of up to 10 years, though the judge can sentence Cosby to serve that time concurrently, which would shorten his overall time behind bars.
However, even one decade behind bars could effectively be a life sentence for Cosby, who is currently 80 years old and in declining health. Last year, he told the NNPA Newswire that he is completely blind, and rumors have been swirling for some time that he may be showing signs of dementia.
Unfortunately, a guilty verdict is not the end; according to Rolling Stone, Cosby's lawyer, Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., said, "[T]he fight is not over." He said he would appeal the court's decision, which will delay the sentencing process.
After the guilty verdict was handed down, THR reports that Cosby launched into a tirade, calling District Attorney Kevin Steele an "asshole." Meanwhile, video surfaced on social media of women leaving the courtroom after the verdict weeping and embracing.
Alanna Vagianos of Huffington Post quoted Chelan Lasha, one of the five women who testified against Cosby at the trial, on Twitter: "32 years of nightmares and tears are over."
The official Twitter for Time's Up retweeted The New York Times with only the #TimesUp hashtag as commentary — an effective move, as Cosby's time is officially up. Following accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, a slew of powerful men have lost work in the wake of Tarana Burke's #MeToo movement gaining steam, but recently, men like Charlie Rose have proven that when it comes to believing women, our cultural memory is short and forgetting is long.
Cosby's conviction is hopefully the first in a long line of cases in which justice is — if belatedly — served. The question now is whether he will ever actually see a day behind bars for his crime against Constand (and the dozens of other women he's allegedly violated over the years).