News broke on Saturday that Judge Steven O'Neill of Pennsylvania declared a mistrial in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case. The decision comes after a jury — composed of five women and seven men — failed to reach a unanimous verdict. On Thursday, after having listened to testimony for six days, the jury was reportedly deadlocked following more than 30 hours of deliberations; when the mistrial was declared, it was up to about 50 hours. District Attorney Kevin Steele promptly declared that he will retry the case.
More than 60 women have made allegations of sexual assault against Cosby, with the alleged attacks spanning a timeline from the 1960s to as recently as 2008. Cosby denies all allegations. The trial in question focused on accusations made by Andrea Constand, who claims that Cosby drugged and molested her at his home in 2004. The comedian denies Constand's claims, too.
According to Constand, who previously worked at Temple University — Cosby's alma mater — as director of operations for the women's basketball team, the actor began attempting to court her after noticing her at one of the university's basketball games. She describes herself as having been uninterested in his advances but still trusting enough to accept his "fatherly advice" regarding her career and future. It was this kind of advice Constand says Cosby was offering in January 2004 when he called inviting her to his Pennsylvania home. Constand agreed to meet; she says that after she had a glass of wine, Cosby allegedly offered her three pills he claimed were herbal to help her "relax." Cosby then allegedly proceeded to assault her while she was incapacitated. The comedian says that he gave Constand Benadryl and insists that their encounter was consensual.
Cosby's legal team primarily focused on highlighting inconsistencies in Constand's past statements, including initially stating that the attack took place in March then later changing the month to January, as well as her initial assertion that she'd never been alone with Cosby before the assault and subsequently stating that she had, in fact, been alone with the actor prior to the assault. Constand acknowledged the discrepancies during questioning, calmly responding that she'd been mistaken.
Her allegations are similar to those of Kelly Johnson, a former assistant to Cosby's agent, who testified on day one of the trial. In 1996, Johnson claims, Cosby invited her to his hotel room and offered her a "large white pill" after telling her that she "looked [like] she needed to relax." Mirroring Constand's allegations, Johnson claims that she later woke up with her clothes having been pulled up and "feeling naked." Similarly, Cosby’s legal team denies Johnson's accusations, and accused her of being an opportunist who waited until 2015 to go public with her story, according to The Daily Beast.
Gloria Allred, lawyer of more than 30 Cosby accusers, made a statement following the judge's mistrial decision. "We can never underestimate the blinding power of celebrity," she said. "But justice will come."