Bill Cosby Found Guilty: Comedian Drugged, Sexually Assaulted Woman; Accusers ‘Vindicated'

Jurors deliberated for 14 hours over two days before reaching a verdict. His attorneys said they will appeal.

Bill Cosby has been found guilty on sexual assault charges in a case that destroyed the legacy of one of America's most influential comedians long before the verdict came down.

Cosby, 80, was originally charged in 2015. He was convicted on all three counts of aggravated assault related to an encounter with a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, in his Cheltenham home in suburban Philadelphia.

He was accused of drugging and molesting Constand in 2004. During the trial, five other women testified to also having been drugged and assaulted by Cosby.

The initial trial last year, also held at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, garnered national attention. It ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked.

He now faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. A sentencing date has not been set. His attorneys said they will appeal the verdict.

Judge Steven O'Neill ordered Cosby to surrender his passport. Cosby will then be able to remain out on $1 million bail and stay at his home in Elkins Park until sentencing.

As the verdict was announced, some of his accusers let out joyous yells from the back of the courtroom. Constand remained poker-faced, as did Cosby. He briefly looked down to the floor, but otherwise had little reaction to the jury's reading of the guilty findings. 

Minutes later, however, Cosby lost his temper as District Attorney Kevin Steele argued that Cosby is a flight risk. In a short exchange that followed, Cosby called Steele "an asshole."

Municipal employees in Atlantic City, New Jersey received their last paycheck until May. NBC10’s Cydney Long has more on the mood of city workers whose current paycheck will have to last them a month.

Speaking after leaving court, Steele said Cosby "had evaded this moment here today for far too long."

"He used his celebrity, he used his wealth, he used his network of supporters, to help him conceal his crimes. And now, we really know today who was behind that act, who the real Bill Cosby was, and a jury has spoken with once voice, in a court of law, and found the defendant guilty...," he said in part.

Both trials, which lasted a few weeks each, became media spectacles and attracted large numbers of detractors, and some supporters, of the elderly celebrity. His case played out during the rise of the #MeToo movement. 

During jury selection for the retrial, most prospective jurors acknowledged they knew of #MeToo.

Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told the Associated Press that knowledge of the movement might change the way jurors in the first trial thought of the year it took for Constand to go to police with her accusations.

"The #MeToo movement is amplifying what experts have been saying for decades: People are ashamed, they're confused, they can't believe somebody they trust would hurt them, and then they worry that others won't believe them," Houser said at the start of the retrial.

Gloria Allred, an attorney representing 33 women who have accused Cosby of assaulting them, said the outcome has turned a hashtag into reality.

"We are so happy that finally we can say that women are believed and not only on hashtag MeToo, but in a court of law where they were under oath, where they testified truthfully, where they were attacked, where they were smeared, where they were denigrated, where there were attempts to discredit them," Allred said, standing with five accusers.

One of those women, Janice Baker-Kinney, said she and the other accusers are "so grateful" to the jury.

"We are vindicated, we are validated and we are now part of the tsunami of women's power and justice," Baker-Kinney said. "We are not shutting up and we're not going away. Get over it!"

Cosby's attorney, Tom Mesereau, said he is "very disappointed by the verdict."

"We don't think Mr. Cosby is guilty of anything," Mesereau said in a short statement.

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The original trial and the subsequent retrial centered around a 2004 encounter between Cosby and Constand in the comedian's Cheltenham home.

In the second trial, five other women testified in addition to Constand. They also alleged during the trial that Cosby molested them as well.

One legal scholar predicted prior to the retrial that the second attempt could be tougher for Cosby's defense team.

"You've seen previews and coming attractions, but things have changed," Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson told the Associated Press prior to the retrial. This time, Constand "is not alone, and there is strength in numbers."

Constand, the former director of operations for Temple University women’s basketball, took the stand earlier in the trial. She detailed how she met Cosby, how they became friends and occasional dinner mates and eventually how she was drugged and sexually assaulted at Cosby’s Elkins Park home. She said the incident took place in Jan. 2004.

Over the course of roughly 16 months in 2003 and 2004, Constand and Cosby spent several evenings together — a mix of dinner parties with small groups and meet-ups at places like Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

Constand is a native of Canada now living in Toronto. She spent a little more than three years at Temple, where Cosby formerly served as a trustee and patron of the school’s basketball program. She is now a self-employed massage therapist.

Cosby settled a civil lawsuit with Constand years ago. Unlike at the first trial, jurors at the retrial were allowed to hear some details about the $3.4 million settlement between the two.

For years after the settlement a decade ago, the case was thought to be over. But in 2014, new attention to long-simmering allegations of Cosby’s use of quaaludes during encounters with women dating back to the 1960s re-emerged.

In the years since, some 50 women have come forward with accusations of sexual malfeasance by Cosby dating as far back as 40 years. Twenty-seven of those women shared their stories with NBC's Kate Snow on Dateline NBC.

A different district attorney for Montgomery County, Risa Ferman, decided in 2015 to charge Cosby. After Ferman left the office to become a judge, her successor, Kevin Steele, pressed on with the case.

The Philadelphia native rose to stardom in the 1970s with his stage performances, and he became a household name for his portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s.

Temple University, in a statement released hours after the verdict was handed down, said the school respects the verdict and that trustees will weigh whether to strip Cosby of his honorary degree.

Cosby attended Temple in the 1960s, but left before graduating to pursue comedy. In 1971, the university granted him a bachelor's degree after he earned a master's and a doctorate degree from the University of Massachusetts.

The University of Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon University swiftly revoked Cosby's honorary degrees on Thursday. In a statement, Notre Dame's president said the school waited until due process was afforded before making the decision.

Bill Cosby returned to his Cheltenham Township home after being found guilty of three counts of indecent assault. The judge ordered that he must stay there until his sentencing.
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