Monday 28 May, 2018

Bill Cosby guilty of sexual assault

Bill Cosby was convicted on 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.

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 immobilised, 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".

Bill Cosby 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.

 

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