The judge has declared a mistrial in the case of megastar Bill Cosby, who was accused of drugging and raping an acquaintance in 2004. The jury deliberated for six days but was unable to reach a unanimous verdict as is required in felony criminal cases. The district attorney has vowed to retry the case.
The jurors signaled a problem as early as Thursday, June 15, when they notified the judge that they had reached an impasse. Little information has been provided about which direction the jury might be leaning, who if anyone was a holdout, and what issue or issues were causing the breakdown. It is unlikely more will be learned by the public, however, as the judge has asked the jury not to discuss details of their deliberations.
“This is neither a vindication or a victory,” said the judge.
Neither side is likely happy with this outcome. Although a mistrial does not indicate Cosby’s guilt, his supporters were hoping for a swift, definitive acquittal. Such a ruling would likely have calmed the firestorm of accusations leveled at Cosby both in and outside the courtroom.
Dozens of women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, but only two were allowed to testify in this trial. Most of the other women’s claims are time-barred by the statutes of limitation in the states where the events allegedly occurred. And, while judges can allow evidence of a defendant’s prior bad acts — acts not proven in a court of law — the judge only allowed such testimony by one woman in this case.
The case turned largely on the credibility of the complaining witness and the other complainant who was allowed to testify. Both women told similar stories of Cosby giving them an intoxicating and immobilizing drug before sexually assaulting them.
The defense case was wrapped up in a total of six minutes, during which Cosby’s team argued that the prosecutor had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. They had appeared to be making the argument that the sexual acts were consensual.
The attorney for the complaining witness indicated they were looking forward to the retrial. No information is available about when the case could be put before another jury.