Actor and comedian Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a jury convicted him in a sexual assault retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2018. (Xinhua/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Bill Cosby, a comic legend in the United States for decades, was on Thursday found guilty of all the three charges of sexual assault, including drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 14 years ago.
As the first celebrity sexual assault trial since the #MeToo movement embarked last fall, the case fiercely debated by a jury at Montgomery County Courthouse in Pennsylvania, has drawn heavy public attention across the whole country.
The 80-year-old comedian and actor now faces up to 30 years behind bars, ten years in jail on each count. He would likely serve them concurrently and the sentencing date has not yet been set.
"Andrea Constand came here to Norristown for justice and that's what 12 jurors from Montgomery County provided her," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said at a news conference. "Today we're finally in a place to say that justice was done."
Constand, the major accuser, was stony faced, some other accusers were crying. One of the accusers became too emotional and had to escorted out of court following the jury's announcement after 14 hours of deliberations in the retrial, local media reports quoted observers as saying.
As many as dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, but only Constand's allegations resulted in criminal charges, according to an ABC news report.
In court, Constand, a former employee with Temple University, testified that Cosby, then a powerful trustee at Temple, drugged her and sexually violated her when she visited his home to ask for career advice in his Philadelphia suburb home in 2004.
Cosby's lawyers argued that the affair was consensual, calling Constand a 'pathological liar' in attempts to gain piece of Cosby's fortune. In comparison, five other Cosby accusers testified as "prior bad acts" witnesses and said that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them decades ago.
In retrial, prosecutors said these women's stories showed that Cosby had a pattern in his actions and did not make a one-time mistake in his interactions with Constand.
"This case is about trust," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told jurors in his opening remarks. "This case is about betrayal, and that betrayal leading to the sexual assault of a woman named Andrea Constand."
"This has been an extraordinarily difficult case," Judge Steven T. O' Neill told the seven male and five female jurors, Montgomery County residents who had been sequestered most of the month.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Kathleen Bliss positioned Cosby's legal team as standing up against "witch hunts, lynchings (and) McCarthyism."
Cosby initially faced sexual assault charges in court last June, but jurors could not reach a unanimous decision and the judge therefore declared it a mistrial.
Cosby is a famed American comedian, actor and author. He became the first African American actor to land a starring role in the 1960s TV show I Spy, and earned three Emmys awards.
He created, produced and hosted the animated comedy TV series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids from 1972 to 1985, and produced and starred in a TV sitcom, The Cosby Show, from 1984 to 1992. He has also starred in a number of films.
Cosby's good-father image had already been badly tarnished following accusations of sexual assault against him by more than 50 women several years before the #MeToo movement emerged last fall. However, most of the alleged acts have exceeded the 12-year statute of limitations for criminal legal proceedings.