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Judge declares mistrial in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case

Bill Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges ended without a verdict Saturday after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision in a case.

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Bill Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges ended without a verdict Saturday after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision in a case.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The judge in the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby declared a mistrial Saturday after jurors reported being hopelessly deadlocked after six days of deliberations, bringing an inconclusive end to this phase of one of the highest-profile cases in recent history.

District Attorney Kevin R. Steele of Montgomery County immediately vowed to put Cosby on trial again.

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The outcome denied vindication to either the defendant or the dozens of women who have accused Cosby, one of the world’s best-known entertainers, of assaulting them over a span of decades.

The exhausted jurors had been deliberating since Monday, sometimes for as much as 12 hours a day.

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In their sixth day of deliberations, jurors sent word to Judge Steven T. O’Neill that they could not reach a unanimous verdict on the charges that, in 2004, Cosby had drugged and assaulted Andrea Constand in his Pennsylvania home.

Cosby, 79, reacted calmly to the decision, rubbing his face at one point. Constand stared straight ahead.

After Cosby and his two lawyers filed out, Constand stood in the courtroom surrounded by four other women who had accused Cosby of assault. She looked calm as some of the other women wept, and her lawyer, Dolores Troiani, spoke for her, saying they were looking forward to the retrial.

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“We will get to do it again,” Troiani said.

Among the women who huddled with Constand was Victoria Valentino, who said Cosby assaulted her nearly five decades ago. “Devastated, but the work goes on,” she said of the outcome.

“This is neither a vindication or a victory,” said O’Neill, who praised the jurors for their service and asked them not to discuss their deliberations. “They are yours and yours alone,” he said.

Cosby said through a spokesman that he felt good about the verdict. His wife, Camille Cosby, issued a strongly worded statement that condemned the district attorney for bringing the case and criticized the media, which she said had “continually disseminated intentional omissions of truths.”

“As a very special friend once stated, ‘Truth can be subdued, but not destroyed,’ ” she said.

The case turned largely on the credibility of Constand, a former Temple University employee.

Constand testified that the assault had occurred as she visited the home of Bill Cosby, who was a Temple trustee, when she was 30 and he was 66. She said Cosby gave her pills that he said were herbal, but that left her immobile and drifting in and out of consciousness. He has said he gave her Benadryl.

Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault — penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant without the subject’s knowledge.

The jury of 12 was composed of six white men, four white women, one black woman, and one black man. They had reported being deadlocked Thursday but then resumed deliberations at the request of the judge. As it turned out, the deliberations ended up taking longer than the presentation of evidence did.

In recent years, Cosby admitted to decades of philandering and to giving Quaaludes to women to induce them to have sex. The admissions smashed the image he had built as a moralizing public figure and as the upstanding paterfamilias in the wildly popular 1980s and ’90s sitcom “The Cosby Show.”

He did not testify in his own defense, and so avoided a grilling about those admissions. He and his lawyers insisted that his encounters with Constand were part of a consensual affair, not an assault.

The mistrial leaves in limbo a large slice of American popular culture from Cosby’s six-decade career as a comedian and actor.

For the last few years, his TV shows, films, and recorded stand-up performances, one-time broadcast staples, have been considered too toxic to touch, and with the mistrial, they are likely to remain so.

Cosby’s supporters had hoped that a not-guilty verdict might tarnish the broader pool of accusations that have been leveled against him and stained his legacy.

Several of the women have continuing cases in which they have sued Cosby for slander after his representatives suggested that their accounts were fabrications. Several showed up in the courthouse to support Constand each day.

Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle insisted that Constand was lying about a consensual sexual relationship.

“They’ve been intimate,” he said in his closing statement. “Why are we trying to make it something it’s not?”

He conceded that Cosby is a flawed man, an unfaithful husband who shattered his fans’ illusions, and that revelations of his womanizing have overtaken his previous image as a genial comedian and beloved TV dad. But that is no crime, he said.

The prosecution had rested its case last Friday, and the defense presented a case Monday that lasted just six minutes — in essence telling the jury that prosecutors had failed to prove anything, and that there was little or nothing left for them to rebut.

The defense team called just one witness, Sergeant Richard Schaffer of the Cheltenham Township Police, who interviewed Cosby and Constand after her initial complaint 12 years ago and who testified last week as a prosecution witness.

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