PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jurors could not agree the first time round whether or not to simply accept a lady’s story that “America’s Dad,” Bill Cosby, sexually assaulted her over a decade in the past. Now he faces a retrial in lower than 90 days in a vastly totally different cultural local weather, one during which highly effective males from Hollywood to the U.S. Senate are being toppled by allegations of sexual misconduct.
The jury in Cosby’s case was deadlocked on prices he drugged and molested a lady in 2004, and the choose declared a mistrial in June. But that was earlier than the revelations about film producer Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement burst into the public sphere.
The shift is clearly on Cosby’s thoughts. He quipped to a reporter after shaking her hand Wednesday exterior a Philadelphia restaurant: “Please do not put me on MeToo.”
Legal specialists say the seismic change in believing and supporting victims of sexual harassment and assault — and the near-immediate ramifications for so many well-known males — will absolutely trickle into the Cosby retrial, slated to start April 2.
“Given the break up final time, the problem goes to be in jury choice,” mentioned Los Angeles lawyer Mark Geragos, who shouldn’t be concerned in the Cosby case however whose shoppers have included Michael Jackson. “Almost all instances are gained and misplaced in jury choice, this case specifically.”
In Cosby’s first trial, jury choice was moved to Pittsburgh over protection fears that widespread publicity may make it tough to seek out unbiased jurors in the Philadelphia space. Cosby has a brand new authorized crew, and its technique could also be very totally different.
The star of “The Cosby Show” is charged with knocking out accuser Andrea Constand with drugs and sexually assaulting her at his residence close to Philadelphia. He has mentioned Constand, a former govt with Temple University’s girls’s basketball program, consented to their sexual encounter.
“This is about whether or not you imagine the sufferer or not, and the occasions of the final yr definitely make the case more durable for Cosby,” mentioned Philadelphia prison lawyer Alan J. Tauber, who is not concerned in the case. “Ordinary persons are seeing individuals they respect and belief undermined by horrible accusations.”
Calls and emails searching for remark from Cosby’s legal professionals weren’t returned.
During his first trial, the comic’s legal professionals portrayed Cosby and Constand as lovers who had loved secret “romantic interludes” and tried to sow doubt about her claims.
The legal professionals reminded jurors she waited a yr to contact the authorities and prompt her story advanced throughout interviews with police. They additionally famous Constand made dozens of phone calls to Cosby, who was a member of Temple’s board, after the alleged assault.
“This is not speaking to a trustee. This is speaking to a lover,” former Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle mentioned of 1 name that lasted 49 minutes. “Why are we operating from the fact of this case — this relationship? Why?”
In a case like Cosby’s, during which the proof is primarily testimonial and never bodily, credibility is vital.
Diane Rosenfeld, a lecturer and director of a gender violence program at Harvard Law School, believes the floodgates of sufferer assist opened after the Weinstein allegations and never after Cosby’s accusers got here ahead for two causes: perceived credibility of the victims and the likability of the accused.
“Bill Cosby had been such a treasured American hero, giving us this pleasant, accessible view of a profitable African-American household,” she mentioned. “He was such a loveable public presence, his accusers did not have as a lot energy collectively or public notoriety as victims in the Weinstein case.”
As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, the accused misplaced jobs, TV exhibits, e book offers and a Senate seat. Kevin Spacey was even erased from a accomplished film.
“I believe the shift is right here to remain,” mentioned Carol Tracy, govt director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia. “It won’t be on the entrance web page next yr, however I do assume it will have a major affect going ahead in the prison justice system and on how jurors view these instances.”
Constand’s lawyer mentioned she was floored to listen to Cosby’s remark about the #MeToo movement.
“Apparently Mr. Cosby nonetheless believes sexual assault is a laughing matter,” mentioned lawyer Dolores Troiani. “You should hope he’s alone in that opinion.”
The Associated Press doesn’t usually establish individuals alleging sexual assault until they grant permission, which Constand had performed.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who’s retrying Cosby, mentioned in an announcement he hopes considered one of the optimistic outcomes of the trial is that sexual assault victims really feel they are often heard.
“And for quite a few causes,” he mentioned, “that appears to be occurring now throughout the nation.”
Geragos mentioned the cultural shift would possibly make it simpler to get a jury from a protection perspective, as a result of lots of people who might need been pro-prosecution will self-disqualify by saying they can not be truthful in the present local weather.
Some individuals really feel the pendulum has swung too far in focusing on males, he mentioned, and people are the varieties of jurors the protection must faucet into.
It will be tough to seek out 12 individuals to acquit Cosby in the present local weather, predicted Tauber, the Philadelphia prison lawyer.
“Victory,” he mentioned, “would possibly simply be one other hung jury.”
This story has been up to date to appropriate the identify of a company to the Women’s Law Project, not the Women’s Law Center.