Prosecutor vows to launch new criminal case against Bill Cosby following mistrial – Los Angeles Times

Steele, brought in expert witnesses who said that maintaining such contact is common among people who have been sexually assaulted by someone they know. The state also fortified its case with testimony from Constand’s mother and another Cosby accuser, former Hollywood agent’s assistant Kelly Johnson, who testified she was the victim of a similar assault by Cosby.

Over more than a week of testimony, jurors heard from a number of experts, police officers and accusers, as well as portions of a deposition and the police interview with Cosby.

The prosecution argued that Constand looked to Cosby purely as a mentor. The unidentified pills Cosby gave her during dinner at his home in January 2004, Constand testified, left her powerless to resist when he digitally penetrated her.

The comedian has insisted that their interaction was consensual, part of a romantic relationship that began before 2004 and formed the basis of their encounter that January night.

To bolster that, the defense offered evidence that they remained in contact after the encounter, both in person and on the phone. But Constand said she returned Cosby’s calls and saw him when necessary out of politeness and fear for her job — Cosby was a Temple trustee.

The verdict brings to a close one of the most high-profile sexual assault trials in years. It is likely to be hailed by victims’ rights groups, who said Cosby epitomized an ethos of privilege when it comes to sex crimes.

Constand’s assault claim took more than a decade to find its way into the courts. The fact that it made it to trial at all suggests both the strength and limits of star power. Testimony revealed a celebrity who had repeated encounters with women, but formed relationships awkwardly.

Constand caught Cosby’s eye after being introduced to him by a Temple trustee.

“I don’t know her; she doesn’t know me,” Cosby said, describing in the deposition how he was careful in how he approached Constand.

“Everybody knows you, Mr. Cosby,” the questioner countered.

“Not really,” he replied.

Cosby said he’d hoped, upon meeting Constand, that their interactions would “lead to some kind of permission or no permission, or how you would get to wherever you’re going to wind up.”

The trial opened a window into Cosby’s life — how he maintained homes in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York and Massachusetts, and gave Constand his phone number in Philadelphia because his wife wasn’t there.

He also maintained a chef who would cook meals to order for guests and would often be the only other person in the suburban Philadelphia home.

Cosby would have the chef cook Constand dinner, but wouldn’t join her in the meals. Instead he would pop in regularly to check how she was doing.

The trial marked the first time Constand had publicly spoken about her encounter with the entertainer.

Her testimony was frequently more procedural than emotional, but the shape of her narrative was similar to that of other women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault — though those other stories never resulted in prosecution and weren’t mentioned in court in this case due to statutes of limitations.

Constand described how, on the night in question, she began to lose her mental capacities after ingesting three pills that Cosby had offered her. He told her, she said, that they were herbal. “Little friends,” he called them.

“He assisted me over to the couch and just said, ‘Relax, just lay down here, you need to relax,’” she said he told her after providing the pills. “I was laying on my left side and he placed some kind of pillow [under me]. I have no real recollection except later I was jolted awake,” she said, going on to describe how he used his hand to violate her.

She said she would have liked to have gotten up and left but couldn’t. “In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, but I was frozen and those messages didn’t get there,” she said.

Cosby said that Constand was awake the entire time and they simply had an amorous encounter in which she not only seemed willing but guided his hand into sensitive areas. He said he had given her the pills — Benadryl, he told authorities — to help her relax because she’d had trouble sleeping.

The much-publicized trial showcased very different legal styles: the often dry district attorney, Steele, and the colorful McMonagle, the showman lawyer prone to offering personal anecdotes — his closing featured an elaborate story about a visit to a suburban Shake Shack.

“We know why we’re here. Let’s be real,” he told the jury in his closing. “We’re here because of them.” At that point, he turned and pointed at a group of previous accusers sitting in the back of the courtroom. They looked back coolly.

Steele had run a campaign for district attorney on a pledge to prosecute Cosby. In his closing argument, the prosecutor offered a harsh assessment of the former sitcom dad, saying that he “has the means to do this … has created the opportunity by bringing the person to his house.”

Steele built some of his case around Cosby’s admission in the deposition that years ago he would buy Quaaludes to enable sex with women, using them “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.’” This was proof, Steele suggested, of a pattern of drugging and molestation.

To help reinforce the point, he called as a witness Kelly Johnson, a former Hollywood agency assistant who claimed she had a similar encounter with Cosby.

McMonagle had at one point sought to have Steele removed from the case because of his campaign pledge, a fact that could help form the basis of an appeal, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt told The Times before the verdict.

Jurors also heard from Timothy Rohrig, a toxicologist who had said it didn’t matter whether the pills were Benadryl or something stronger, such as Quaaludes: Even Benadryl “has been used as a drug to facilitate sexual assault,” Rohrig testified.

But it was Constand’s mother, Gianna Constand, who sparked some of the most interest in the courtroom. More emphatic than her daughter, she recounted how Andrea Constand had bad dreams and night sweats after the night at Cosby’s house.

When a defense lawyer asked her whether her daughter had shared details of a romantic relationship, she retorted: “No. Because there wasn’t anything to share.”

steve.zeitchik@latimes.com

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

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