Jurors Begin Deliberation in Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial

Bill Cosby was a predator or a lover. A kindly mentor or a callous manipulator.

After all the emotional testimony, the bellowing attorneys and the reams of evidence, it was left to the 12 jurors who disappeared behind a courtroom door in this Philadelphia suburb late Monday to sort out those competing images of the 79-year-old comedian.

The sequestered jury — seven men and five women from the Pittsburgh area — betrayed little about their leanings during six days of testimony that drew to an explosive finish Monday afternoon with four hours of fiery closing arguments from both sides. Many of the jurors were expressionless during testimony, but a few were smiling and chuckling when they entered the courtroom on Monday afternoon to receive final instructions from Steven T. O’Neill, the presiding Montgomery County judge.

The jury, which deliberated for four hours and will reconvene Tuesday morning, will decide whether Cosby is guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each of which carries a possible 10-year sentence.

Prosecutor Kevin Steele and defense attorney Brian McMonagle each sent the jurors off to deliberations with rhetorical dilemmas to resolve. Steele, a career prosecutor whose face turned the shade of a sun-ripened tomato during his close, tried to get jurors to focus on Cosby’s admission that he gave pills to his alleged victim, Andrea Constand, that the comedian has testified he called “three friends to help you relax.”

“Who says something like that?” Steele said, his voice full of spite, as he pleaded with the jury to convict Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004 when she was 30.

McMonagle, pounding the defense table, suggested to jurors that Cosby was the victim of a drumbeat of accusations by women who wanted to appear on television shows.

“You know why we’re here,” McMonagle said scornfully, nodding toward two Cosby accusers in the audience — Victoria Valentino and Linda Kirkpatrick — who did not testify in the case. “Let’s be real.”

McMonagle cast blame on the media for giving Cosby’s accusers — who now number 60 — a forum. Later, Valentino said in an interview that she was proud to be singled out because she’d helped expose a man she called “the biggest serial rapist in American history.”

A few steps behind Cosby, who sat at the defense table reclining in his chair, the comic legend’s wife, Camille, watched McMonagle’s closing argument. When McMonagle urged jurors to view the alleged sexual encounter between her husband and Constand as part of a year-long romance, Camille Cosby sat with her head held high, a slight smile on her face.

Camille Cosby — the entertainer’s wife of more than 50 years — drew stares because she was in the courthouse after a week of conspicuous absence. She slipped into the courtroom while the judge was addressing the audience and the attorneys. By allowing Cosby’s wife to enter the courtroom in the middle of proceedings while the judge was speaking, officials at the Montgomery Courthouse extended her an extraordinary and unprecedented courtesy.

From her prime seat, Cosby’s wife heard her husband’s lawyer blame his legal woes on the supposed lies, greed and vanity of his accusers.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post