Can Bill Cosby Be Convicted?

'Too much time has passed,' leading lawyer says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2016 6:03 AM CDT
Can Bill Cosby Be Convicted?
Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after a preliminary hearing, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, in Norristown, Pa.    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Pool)

Will one of the biggest celebrity trials of the decade complete Bill Cosby's downfall? The 74-year-old has been ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges, but it is far from clear whether prosecutors will be able to secure a conviction in the case, which involves allegations from 2004 and was reopened last year. Andrea Constand accuses Cosby of drugging her and sexually assaulting her at his home near Philadelphia. He argues that the encounter was consensual. A round-up of coverage:

  • Prominent defense lawyer Barry Slotnick tells NBC News that the case will be very difficult to prosecute—especially if the judge doesn't allow Cosby's dozens of other accusers to take the stand. "This case is over with. Too much time has passed," he says. "The major question the jury will have for the accuser is, 'Where have you been and why did you settle?' I think Cosby's position is going to be 'yes, I had sex with her and it was consensual.'"

  • CNN recaps the allegations and looks at how Cosby's legal troubles have snowballed over the last few years. Even if he is acquitted in the Constand case, he will still face multiple civil lawsuits, including defamation suits stemming from his efforts to discredit his accusers.
  • The AP looks at what will happen next. With defense lawyers fighting to keep evidence like a deposition from Constand's 2005 civil lawsuit out of the trial, it could be more than a year before Cosby goes on trial.
  • Experts say that since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has allowed the case to proceed this far, Cosby's death is one of the only things that could prevent it going to trial. "If he were to pass away before his conviction is final, it will not count as a conviction in most jurisdictions," Fordham Law School expert James Cohen tells USA Today. "And therefore, whatever small chance his reputation has of surviving it would not be further diminished by a felony conviction."
  • Cosby's lawyers Tuesday gave what the AP calls a "blistering preview" of the questions Constand is likely to face. Brian McMonagle argued that Constand voluntarily accepted the pills Cosby gave her—and, while asking the judge to dismiss the case, said that she "accepted a dinner invitation, spoke to him on the phone... and visited him in Canada at a concert" in the year between the alleged assault and her first call to police.
  • In an opinion piece at the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg notes that some people will continue to consider Cosby innocent whether he is convicted or not—and wonders what will become of his "cultural influence" if there is a guilty verdict.
(In newly revealed court papers, Cosby describes a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old.)

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