In the retrial, how will Cosby’s defense be able to improve its threadbare case?
“Do you agree that there is a hopeless deadlock that cannot be resolved by further deliberation?”
Judge Steven T. O’Neill posed this question on that balmy Saturday morning to each of the jurors in the Cosby trial, who stood in turn and said, “Yes.” “Yes, your honor.” “Yes, your honor,” until all 12 had been polled.
“I am compelled at this stage to grant a mistrial,” said the judge. And so two weeks of grueling work for all involved went poof! as if it had never happened at all. The new trial will be put on within 120 days, according to DA Kevin Steele. Same judge, same courtroom… new jury. The prosecution will be able to make adjustments based on how things went last time, as will the defense.
But how will the defense be able to improve its threadbare case? They are arguing that somehow, Andrea Constand, 36 years Bill Cosby’s junior, sought a “romantic” relationship with the aging star. The defense team’s story, which vacillated throughout the proceedings, was that either Constand was manipulating Cosby in order to get help with her career, or she was seeking a “romance.” Evidence for either assertion is thin on the ground, but such is the nature of “reasonable doubt.” It only took one juror to scupper the whole trial. And many observers were convinced that it was, indeed, just one holdout who tipped the scales. It must have been close: Otherwise, why would 12 people have forfeited another whole week of their lives?
Lili Bernard, who co-starred in “The Cosby Show’s” eighth season, was seated on one of the upholstered benches lining the cool marble hallways outside the courtroom after the trial, crying her eyes out. A heartbreaking sight for those of us who’ve seen her in court every day, and who remembered her words in a 2015 press conference: “After he had won my complete trust and adoration, he drugged me and raped me.”
But the Cosby team lost no time in declaring this turn of events a victory. “Mr. Cosby’s power is back. It’s back,” Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s public relations man, told the press. “So the legacy didn’t go anywhere. It has been restored.”
lol!—That would be a resounding no. Because reasonable doubt goes both ways. Those who suspect that Andrea Constand, along with a host of other women, were drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby will never be able to look at him the same way again. They’ll never listen to him, never go to see his comedy shows. Never again watch reruns of “The Cosby Show.” Even Jell-O will be forever tainted by its association with this man, who is suspected of having exploited the respect in which he was held in order to attack a multitude of young women who trusted him.
Like many millions of others, I have a reasonable doubt that Cosby is innocent. If the evidence we heard is correct, his pattern was clear. Target a woman not quite in his employ, but in his sphere of influence. An actress looking for a break, or someone who worked at his agency, William Morris, or at Temple University, where he was a big donor. Gain that woman’s trust, make her promises of one kind or another. Offer her pills to help her “relax.”
No matter what happens in the retrial, Cosby has lost every claim he once had to address America as an authority. He isn’t just tarnished, he’s finished.