mostlycloudy
Friday April 27th, 2018 12:21AM

What will the #MeToo movement mean for Cosby's next trial?

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jurors couldn't agree the first time around whether to accept a woman's story that "America's Dad," Bill Cosby, sexually assaulted her over a decade ago. Now he faces a retrial in less than 90 days in a vastly different cultural climate, one in which powerful men from Hollywood to the U.S. Senate are being toppled by allegations of sexual misconduct.

The jury in Cosby's case was deadlocked on charges he drugged and molested a woman in 2004, and the judge declared a mistrial in June. But that was before the revelations about movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement burst into the public sphere.

The shift is clearly on Cosby's mind. He quipped to a reporter after shaking her hand Wednesday outside a Philadelphia restaurant: "Please don't put me on MeToo."

Legal experts say the seismic change in believing and supporting victims of sexual harassment and assault — and the near-immediate ramifications for so many famous men — will surely trickle into the Cosby retrial, slated to begin April 2.

"Given the split last time, the challenge is going to be in jury selection," said Los Angeles lawyer Mark Geragos, who is not involved in the Cosby case but whose clients have included Michael Jackson. "Almost all cases are won and lost in jury selection, this case in particular."

In Cosby's first trial, jury selection was moved to Pittsburgh over defense fears that widespread publicity could make it difficult to find unbiased jurors in the Philadelphia area. Cosby has a new legal team, and its strategy may be very different.

The star of "The Cosby Show" is charged with knocking out accuser Andrea Constand with pills and sexually assaulting her at his home near Philadelphia. He has said Constand, a former executive with Temple University's women's basketball program, consented to their sexual encounter.

"This is about whether you believe the victim or not, and the events of the last year certainly make the case harder for Cosby," said Philadelphia criminal lawyer Alan J. Tauber, who isn't involved in the case. "Ordinary people are seeing people they respect and trust undermined by terrible accusations."

Calls and emails seeking comment from Cosby's lawyers weren't returned.

During his first trial, the comedian's lawyers portrayed Cosby and Constand as lovers who had enjoyed secret "romantic interludes" and tried to sow doubt about her claims.

The lawyers reminded jurors she waited a year to contact the authorities and suggested her story evolved during interviews with police. They also noted Constand made dozens of telephone calls to Cosby, who was a member of Temple's board, after the alleged assault.

"This isn't talking to a trustee. This is talking to a lover," former Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle said of one call that lasted 49 minutes. "Why are we running from the truth of this case — this relationship? Why?"

In a case like Cosby's, in which the evidence is primarily testimonial and not physical, credibility is key.

Diane Rosenfeld, a lecturer and director of a gender violence program at Harvard Law School, believes the floodgates of victim support opened after the Weinstein allegations and not after Cosby's accusers came forward for two reasons: perceived credibility of the victims and the likability of the accused.

"Bill Cosby had been such a treasured American hero, giving us this friendly, accessible view of a successful African-American family," she said. "He was such a loveable public presence, his accusers didn't have as much power collectively or public notoriety as victims in the Weinstein case."

As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, the accused lost jobs, TV shows, book deals and a Senate seat. Kevin Spacey was even erased from a completed movie.

"I think the shift is here to stay," said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Center in Philadelphia. "It might not be on the front page next year, but I do think it will have a significant impact going forward in the criminal justice system and on how jurors view these cases."

Constand's lawyer said she was floored to hear Cosby's comment about the #MeToo movement.

"Apparently Mr. Cosby still believes sexual assault is a laughing matter," said attorney Dolores Troiani. "You have to hope he is alone in that opinion."

The Associated Press does not typically identify people alleging sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand had done.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who is retrying Cosby, said in a statement he hopes one of the positive outcomes of the trial is that sexual assault victims feel they can be heard.

"And for a number of reasons," he said, "that seems to be happening now across the country."

Geragos said the cultural shift might make it easier to get a jury from a defense perspective, because a lot of people who might have been pro-prosecution will self-disqualify by saying they can't be fair in the current climate.

Some people feel the pendulum has swung too far in targeting men, he said, and those are the types of jurors the defense needs to tap into.

It will be difficult to find 12 people to acquit Cosby in the current climate, predicted Tauber, the Philadelphia criminal lawyer.

"Victory," he said, "might just be another hung jury."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
What will the #MeToo movement mean for Cosby's next trial?
Legal experts say trend in supporting sex-misconduct victims will trickle into Cosby's retrial
9:28AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Funeral set for Philadelphia firefighter killed in collapse
The funeral procession for a veteran Philadelphia firefighter who was fatally injured in a house collapse made its way through downtown, halting the typical hustle and bustle of the morning rush
9:10AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Euro surges amid German government hopes; stocks solid
The euro surged to three-year highs against the dollar Friday amid signs that the European Central Bank is readying to rein in its stimulus sooner than many in the financial markets had been predicting
9:08AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Africa startled by Trump's sudden and vulgar attention
Africa startled by Trump's sudden and vulgar attention; 'Perfect definition of racism'
8:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
Cybersecurity firm: US Senate in Russian hackers' crosshairs
A cybersecurity firm says the same Russian government-aligned hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party have spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate
8:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump denies he used vulgarity to describe African countries
President Donald Trump denies he used a vulgar expression to describe countries in Africa, tweeting, "This was not the language used."
8:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Members of Haitian community react to Trump's comments
Members of the Haitian community react to President Donald Trump's words about immigrants
5:52AM ( 3 hours ago )
Torrential California mudslide takes lives of elderly, young
The oldest victim swept away in a California mudslide was Jim Mitchell, who had celebrated his 89th birthday the day before and died with his wife of more than 50 years, Alice.
5:25AM ( 4 hours ago )
The case for Keenum: Vikings QB keeps on disproving doubters
The case for Keenum: Unexpected Vikings quarterback keeps on disproving doubters
2:42AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Britain's queen discusses weight of the crown in documentary
Queen Elizabeth II has spoken candidly about the weight of wearing the crown in a new documentary that addresses the unexpected perils of being the monarch.
8:40AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Eurovision winner Sobral has successful heart transplant
Eurovision Song Contest winner Salvador Sobral has left a Portuguese hospital after a successful heart transplant
8:30AM ( 1 hour ago )
Italy ex-leader Berlusconi backs Deneuve on male courtship
Ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi, known for his "bunga bunga" parties and fondness for younger women, is praising Catherine Deneuve for warning against a courtship backlash following the swell of sexual misconduct allegations against prominent men
8:16AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Entertainment
James Franco wins early at Critics' Choice Awards
James Franco was among the early winners at the Critics' Choice Awards, but wasn't on hand to accept his award
10:24PM ( 11 hours ago )
James Franco an early winner at Critics' Choice Awards
James Franco was among the early winners at the Critics' Choice Awards, but wasn't on hand to accept his award
10:07PM ( 11 hours ago )
California's Montecito has drawn celebrities since Chaplin
Celebrities from Charlie Chaplin to Oprah Winfrey have made Montecito, California, their private haven before mudslides gave the town an unwanted wave of fame this week
7:50PM ( 13 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Funeral set for Philadelphia firefighter killed in collapse
The funeral procession for a veteran Philadelphia firefighter who was fatally injured in a house collapse made its way through downtown, halting the typical hustle and bustle of the morning rush
9:10AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Euro surges amid German government hopes; stocks solid
The euro surged to three-year highs against the dollar Friday amid signs that the European Central Bank is readying to rein in its stimulus sooner than many in the financial markets had been predicting
9:08AM ( 23 minutes ago )
New eurozone chief Centeno wants closer unity, fewer crises
The euro currency zone has a new leader, as Portugal's Mario Centeno took over the reins of the body that was in the forefront of efforts to contain Europe's debt crises
9:07AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Hungary irate over Romanian leader's comments about autonomy
Hungary's foreign minister says provocative comments by Romania's prime minister about autonomy efforts by Szeklers, a group of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, are "unworthy of the 21st century."
9:07AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Pakistan army chief: US general called, offered assurances
Pakistan's army chief says top US general called him, offered assurances against US hitting targets inside Pakistan
9:00AM ( 31 minutes ago )