Bill Cosby has been convicted of sexual assault, after a Pennsylvania jury returned a guilty verdict against the disgraced comedian on Thursday afternoon.
Cosby, who in recent years has been accused by more than 50 women of sexual assault, was found guilty on three counts: penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant. The New York Times reports that all three are felonies, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The charges against Cosby stemmed from a 2004 encounter with Andrea Constand, a then-employee of the Temple University athletics department, who said that the entertainer -- a member of the Temple board and someone whom Constand hoped would serve as a mentor -- invited her to his Philadelphia home, where he then drugged and assaulted her. Constand testified that she was rendered immobile, and "could not fight him off" during the attack.
Though there had been whispers in Hollywood for years about Cosby's behavior, which stretched back multiple decades, the accusations against him were largely ignored by the general public, who still saw him as the amiable dad from "The Cosby Show." It took a 2014 set by comedian Hannibal Buress -- in which Buress chastised Cosby for his moralizing by saying, "You raped women" -- for the allegations to become common knowledge.
In the years since, multiple additional women have come forward with eerily similar tales about the comedian, who they said gave them alcohol and/or pills, and then assaulted them while they were immobilized or unconscious. Constand had previously brought a civil case against Cosby, in which he admitted to offering drugs to women with whom he hoped to have sex, though he claimed that all of the encounters -- including the one with Constand -- were consensual.
The comedian was tried on the same charges last summer, but a mistrial was declared after jurors remained deadlocked on a verdict after six days of deliberations. Jurors in this new trial deliberated for two days before returning their verdict. The comedian declined to testify in his own defense at either trial.
Cosby remained free on Thursday on $1 million bail, after the judge deemed him a non-flight risk. A sentencing hearing is forthcoming.
[via: The New York Times]