Jury Says Bill Cosby Guilty of Sexual Assault

First celebrity conviction of the #MeToo era…

Bill Cosby photo

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(Jeremy Roebuck and Laura McCrystal, The Philadelphia Inquirer) NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A Montgomery County jury has found Bill Cosby guilty of the only criminal charges to emerge from a career-ending scandal fueled by dozens of women who accused the entertainer once known as “America’s Dad” of sexual assault.

After about 13 hours of deliberation, the panel of seven men and five women on Thursday convicted him of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who said she had seen Cosby as a father figure and mentor until the early 2004 night that he accosted her at his Cheltenham Township home.

The 80-year-old entertainer could face up to 10 years in prison.

According to the Associated Press, “Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an ‘a–hole’ after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee.”

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The verdict delivered the first celebrity conviction of the #MeToo era in a case that in many ways stood at its vanguard and shone a spotlight on the role sexual entitlement, a scandal-hungry media and Hollywood’s casting-couch culture played in the ruin of a comedy icon.

But in the end, it was the years-old account of one of Cosby’s very first accusers that now threatens to send him to prison, potentially for the rest of his life.

The decision — guilty for aggravated indecent assault stemming from the attack on Constand — was announced in a packed Norristown courtroom.

The outcome represented vindication for the 45-year-old Canadian massage therapist, whose story was rebuffed first in 2005 by prosecutors who doubted she could stand up to courtroom scrutiny and then last year by another jury that was unable to unanimously agree about her claims.

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It also delivered a victory to Steele, who through two trials has come under attack from Cosby, his wife and a defense team that accused him of corruptly targeting an innocent man to feed his own political ambitions.

Still, Steele vowed to press on after Cosby’s first trial in June resulted in a hung jury and mistrial and returned to court April 9 with a case that was in many ways stronger than before

Judge Steven T. O’Neill is expected to sentence Cosby at a later date.

©2018 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.