Bill Cosby, the longtime comedian and TV legend, was convicted of sexual assault in a retrial, said reports on Thursday, April 26.
Cosby, 80, best known for “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s, was convicted of drugging a friend in 2004 before assaulting her.
After the conviction, he now faces a prison term of up to 10 years for three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, 45, after a three-week-long trial at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
For Cosby, who is elderly and in poor health, a 10-year-long prison term is essentially a death sentence.
About 60 women have publically accused Cosby over five decades of being a sexual abuser. Due to the statute of limitation, only one charge was brought against him.
“It’s a victory not just for the 62 of us who have come forward but for all survivors of sexual assault, female and male,” Cosby accuser Lily Bernard told reporters, Reuters reported. “I feel like my faith in humanity is restored.”
At the start of the retrial, it was revealed that Cosby had paid Costrand $3.4 million as part of a civil settlement in 2006, the BBC reported.
Tom Mesereau, Cosby’s lawyer, told reporters that the “fight is not over,” saying that he thinks the comedian is innocent.
Cosby has said any sexual encounters were consensual, and his lawyers portrayed Constand as a “pathological liar” who falsely depicted their romantic relationship as an attack. Five other women also testified to similar treatment from Cosby, whose lawyers argued that the women were fabricating stories in search of wealth and fame, according to Reuters.
But a jury sided with Constand, who testified that she went to Cosby’s house to discuss a potential career change when he gave her three blue pills he said would relax her. She said the pills made her feel woozy, and that Cosby walked her to a sofa and laid her down.
Then, she said, he assaulted her.
Prosecutors said that the $3.4 million is evidence that Cosby needed to silence Costrand.
In a victory for the defense, the judge allowed the testimony of Margo Jackson, who said Constand once told her “it would be easy” to fabricate an accusation of sexual assault against a celebrity to make money.
“You have sacrificed much, but you have sacrificed in the service of justice and in this country and this Commonwealth and this county,” Judge O’Neill said, talking to the jury, USA Today reported. “That is important.”
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, also pleased with the decision.
“There are many forces that discourage victims from reporting these crimes. Let’s hope the legacy of this case is that victims feel empowered to come forward, knowing that it can truly make a difference in bringing perpetrators to justice;” said Scott Berkowitz, who is the chief of the network, according to USA Today.
‘I Was a Communist Slave’
Reuters contributed to this report.