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Bill Cosby Found Guilty in Sexual Assault Trial. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired April 26, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Our special coverage will continue right now with Erica Hill. Erica?
ERICA HILL, HOST: Thanks for joining us at the top of the hour. I'm Erica Hill in for Brooke Baldwin.
We're back with our breaking news, waiting now any moment for a news conference with prosecutors in the Bill Cosby case. He's facing now up to 30 years in prison after being found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, at a suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. The prosecutors successfully using Cosby's past admissions about his use of Quaaludes and sex. Those came from a deposition as well as the testimony of five other women to help bolster the allegations made by Andrea Constand, the accuser in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA ALLRED, REPRESENTS 29 COSBY ACCUSERS: -- so Tom Mesereau, you tried, you failed. The personal attacks did not work. Bill Cosby, three words for you, guilty, guilty, guilty!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Tom Mesereau, of course, the high profile defense attorney Bill Cosby brought in for this retrial after he was found guilty. There was some discussion of whether or not there should be bonds Cosby stood up and yelled at the prosecutor saying you asshole as he addressed the judge. Here's more of what his attorney had to say just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM MESEREAU, COSBY'S ATTORNEY: We are very disappointed by the verdict. We don't think Mr. Cosby's guilty of anything and the fight is not over. Thank you.
QUESTION: Are you going to appeal, sir?
MESEREAU: Yes. Yes, very strongly.
QUESTION: Is Mr. Cosby prepared to go to prison?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: No comment from Bill Cosby's team. You can see his spokesman usher him into his car after that brief encounter with cameras and microphones.
CNN's Athena Jones is covering more of these developments for us along with CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin.
Athena, what more do we know about exactly how all of this sort of a tick tock of earlier today.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. Hi, Erica. This, we know that the jury deliberated for more than 14 hours, 14 hours and 22 minutes, and they came back with these three guilty verdicts. Let's remind our viewers exactly what Cosby was charged with.
He was charged with penetrating the genitals of Andrea Constand without her consent and while she was unconscious and impairing her ability to control her conduct by administering drugs, intoxicants or other means. So these are three serious charges he faces up to 10 years on each count. We understand that he could serve those 10 years if he is, in fact, sentenced to the full 10 years, he could serve those concurrently, of course. Cosby is 80 years old and is legally blind. And everyone should remember this is the second time he was tried. That first trial was a mistrial last year because the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on any of the three charges, on any of the three counts.
Today, they were able to do so. This jury of seven men, five women, two of the jurors African-American and what we've heard a lot from the Cosby accusers, whether they testified in this case or not, a lot of mentions about this #MeToo movement. A movement that got started several months back that has taken down several huge media figures whether it's in Hollywood like Harvey Weinstein or other men in publishing or on television.
And now, we have the first major legal case of one of these huge figures, a super star, a rich, powerful, famous man who is now been convicted and you're hearing now from these accusers, saying, look, my faith in humanity has been restored because of the #MeToo movement, people are now willing to come forward and see now that they may be believed. One of the Cosby accusers said that without the #MeToo movement, all of this focus on sexual harassment, mistreatment of women in the workplace and men, that without the #MeToo movement she does not think this jury would have reached this verdict. So this is really a major verdict here, Erica.
HILL: And Athena, hold that thought, because I want to bring in Patricia Steuer, one of the Cosby accusers, who joins us now on the phone. Thank you for being with us. First of all, your reaction to this guilty verdict?
PATRICIA STEUER, ACCUSED COSBY OF 1979 SEXUAL ASSAULT (via telephone): I'm stunned. This is not something I expected in my lifetime and I'm also elated. I'm elated for Andrea and I'm elated for all the women who have been affected in their lives by this kind of event. HILL: How much of this conversation has been changed since Bill Cosby last was tried on these charges?
STEUER: I think the culture has been changed quite a bit, the awareness in the culture about sexual assault and about harassment has changed a lot since the first trial. How much that impacted the jury in their deliberations, I don't know, they're human beings. I know they were ad monished not to allow what was going on in the culture and socially to interfere with their deliberations in the case, but their human beings.
[15:05:06] HILL: Your accusations of Bill Cosby stem from an event in 1979, so we're talking obviously decades here. There has been a real sea change just in the last few months but prior to that in the last few years as more and more of Bill Cosby's accusers stood up, spoke out, a number of you doing so together. How did that change things for you knowing that you weren't the only one out there who was making these allegations?
STEUER: When I came forward in 2005, I thought I was the only one until Andrea Constand tried to have him charged the first time, so I was Jane Doe number four in the original 13 Jane Doe's and I can't tell you how amazing it was to know that I was not alone any more after 25 years of living with this.
HILL: How much do you speak to some of these other women?
STEUER: I have met a few of them at the photo shoot for "New York" magazine that was done a couple of years ago, but you know I don't speak with them on a regular basis. It has not been a part of my normal routine to do so.
HILL: I know you said in the past telling "New York" magazine that in the late '70s women didn't challenge powerful men.
STEUER: That's correct.
HILL: Has that changed in 2018?
STEUER: Oh, yes, it has.
HILL: Do you think we'll see more people come forward -- whether it's Bill Cosby, whether it's someone else. How much has that changed for women? How much have voices like your own, like Andrea Constand, like the women who came out and spoke against and made allegations against Harvey Weinstein, how much do you think that has empowered other men and women?
STEUER: I hope it's empowered women. I hope they know now that this is proof that they don't have to stay silent any more.
HILL: What do you think is going to happen in terms of sentencing? And does it matter to you?
STEUER: It doesn't matter to me. I had no control over this outcome, so my purpose from the beginning has been to tell the truth and to let Andrea Constand know that she was not alone and none of that has been easy for any of us. We have been vilified and called horrible names by many members of the public and some members of the media, but today, in this moment, it has been worth all of that.
HILL: Patricia Steuer, really appreciate you taking the time for us today. Thank you.
STEUER: Thank you for asking.
HILL: I also want to bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin. Areva, you and I have talked a lot about the impact of these different stories, whether it is an accuser of Bill Cosby, of Harvey Weinstein, this is a -- this is a remarkable day in terms of that conversation.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, this is huge. I don't think we can underestimate, Erica, how significant this is for women. I've been a civil rights lawyer for two decades. I've watched what has happened in this country around sexual assault, how this movement has evolved and to see someone like Bill Cosby convicted is monumental. And we have to remember, the prosecutors in this case, the original district attorney refused to file charges and there was a lot of back and forth between the prosecutors about whether there was substantial evidence, whether Constand was a credible witness and we saw Cosby's new defense lawyer, his new defense team go after Andrea Constand and the five other women really hard, really challenge their credibility, and despite that, the jurors still found that Andrea Constand was telling the truth, that she had a credible story to tell and that Bill Cosby was guilty of what he was charged with.
So this is incredible. We've seen men fall. We've seen men lose their jobs. We've seen them lose their careers but we've not seen a man in recent history, particularly a man of Bill Cosby's stature being convicted. Three criminal convictions, facing up to 30 years in prison, this is a significant sea change in the whole movement to keep women safe and free from sexual harassment and assault.
HILL: CNN's Jean Casarez has been covering this from the very beginning extensively. She joins us now from Pennsylvania as we wait for this press conference with the prosecutor. Jean, you had been in that courtroom, you have witnessed a lot of this first hand. No cameras were allowed. You have been an incredible set of eyes and ears for us.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): We're getting word that this press conference is just about to begin with prosecutors. We do understand that Andrea Constand -- I'm watching them walk in right now.
HILL: Let's listen in.
CASAREZ: And -
[15:10:00] KEVN STEELE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Let's go, fellows.
All right. Thank you all for being here in our grand jury room. Andrea Constand came here to Norristown for justice and that's what 12 jurors from Montgomery County provided her and I would be remiss if I did not thank, first, those 12 jurors for their diligence, the sacrifices that they made as well as the sacrifices of their families so that they could serve in this important duty that they did.
So today we're finally in a place to say that justice was done. As prosecutors we have a responsibility to seek justice and we have to go wherever and to whomever it takes us. And to begin, I want to step back to a point that was pretty decisive in this case and that's when the Judge Robreno released the civil case deposition and indicated in his opinion that the defendants deposition showed the stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist, and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper and perhaps criminal conduct. At that point, the prosecutors, who are here to do the right thing and specifically my predecessor, Risa Vetri Ferman, opened up and reopened this investigation.
So that's a duty but that duty took courage because she had to open up a case against a powerful man, but I can say definitively that -- that's one of the things that is done over and over again in the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. We have shown from our record that money and power or who you are will not stop us from a criminal investigation or prosecuting a case.
What was revealed through this investigation was a man who had spent decades preying on women that he drugged and sexually assaulted and a man that had evaded this moment here today for far too long. He used his celebrity. He used his wealth. He used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes. And now, we really know today who is behind that act, who the real Bill Cosby was and a jury has spoken with one voice, in a court of law and found the defendant guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his Elkins Park home.
Now, there are a number of people up here and I'm going to try to address as many of this as I can. But before - just a part of the team worked tirelessly to get us to this point, and the most important person in this is Andrea Constand.
Where are you?
There you are.
Forteen years later it may be easy to forget that she was that first courageous person that stood up in public to go to the authorities and say that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her. Her courage, her resilience in the face of horrible and unfounded attacks upon her and her family has been so inspiring to all of us. We thank her. We thank her family. We thank her mother Gianna for trusting us through this process of prosecuting her attacker.
Standing next to her there is the Dolores Troiani, who with Bebe Kivitz, were the ones that were asking the questions in that deposition that the Judge Robreno was referring to that got us to the point where we were able to reopen this case and seek justice. [15:15:03] And standing with her through this whole process has been a lot of other courageous women who are willing to stand up and tell their stories about being drugged and sexually assaulted or raped. 19 were willing to stand up with us in this prosecution, take the witness stand and we are humbled by the courage all of them showed and we can't help but applaud and celebrate the courage of the five witnesses that had a chance to face Bill Cosby in this case, to tell the jury, to tell all of you, what he did to them. So Heidi Thomas, Chelan Lasha, Janice Dickinson, Janice Baker-Kinney, and Lise-Lotte Lublin, the public thank all of them. I called each of them after the verdict was not able to talk to all of them, but -- they know what they've done and they know what their courage helped all of us do.
So supporting all of these women have been the victim advocates, the victims groups, the women's' group, the anti-rape groups and so many others and each of these groups play such an important role in supporting these women and helping them to heal from the ordeal that they have been put through. Those are the people we all owe a debt of gratitude too today for their strength, for their resilience through this entire process as well as every day, because they stand with us, they work with the victims and they make a difference in their lives.
I'm very grateful to stand here before you with this team and again, it's not all of our team, who worked to see that justice was done, but we had to overcome many legal hurdles that were thrown at us by various defense lawyers who have been on this case for the past 28 months. This time from the lawyers of four different law firms and each step of the way, we fought for the opportunity for the victims to be heard. The opportunity to get this case to a jury, an opportunity to be standing before all of you after hearing the defendant had been convicted of three counts of aggravated, indecent assault.
This team has been incredible. I can't say enough about the prosecutors, the detectives, dedicated staff who despite everything that was thrown at us, at them stayed the course. I own the ball and work to get us here today and I'm so incredibly proud of these talented people. Their committed always to do the right thing for the right reasons and I'm going to have to start with, I think, I heard them referred to recently as thunder and lightning.
So, Mr. Ryan here on my left, he heads our family protection unit and he's prosecuted a lot of cases, sexual assaults, rapes and those who have been drugged in sexual assault cases. He's been with our office six years and just is one of the best. You saw some of that talent coming across throughout this trial and -- and I got reports on how I looked as I was watching what they did. And -- the other thing I enjoy doing is coaching and, you know, you get to these points where you work with kids, you work with young adults and you get to that point where you put them out on the field or on to the court and there's not much you can do at that point other than watch and I could not have been more proud of what they did, throughout this whole thing.
[15:20:00] And some of the cross-examination that you all got to see and some of the quick witted remarks were something. I think even caused the jurors to laugh when testimony was being -- were coming back on things and where they had -- the ability here to close.
And Kristen here, so we wouldn't be here if not for her and I say that because -- when we came back to look at this case, Risa Vetri Ferman, and I should refer to as Judge Ferman now, asked Kristen and some of our team to go to Toronto to meet with Andrea. And that was a difficult task and when Kristen came back, she was adamant, adamant about what we should do, and we moved forward and it was the right thing to do and she has stuck through this the whole way, and she had an opportunity, which was kind of a bad day for me when she had a great opportunity for her and her family to go to an excellent law firm, Stradley Ronon and we talked a lot and Kristen did not want to leave this and not see it to the end.
And we talked to Bill Sasso, the chairman of the firm, who we all owe a debt of gratitude too, for allowing her to stay on with us and stay with us through this case. And -- and you have seen the results of that. She, like, like Mr. Ryan here has prosecuted so many sexual assaults, domestic violence cases and she's always stood up for victims and continue to do this. I couldn't have found two better partners through this, two better people, two better prosecutors to walk this journey with. Their commitment to doing the right thing has been extraordinary. And I got to talk about this one and the one on the end. Our Deputy District Attorney Bob Fallon, the captain of our appellate unit, Adrian Jappy (ph).
I don't know if you all have noticed, throughout the course of this, we have seen what seems like hundreds of motions from the beginning when these charges were filed throughout the last days of trial and these incredible, legal minds have found the law that we needed to support our positions despite those many law firms and many lawyers that have made it difficult for us to get to this point. They've supported our positions to keep it moving forward.
They have kept up with everything, all of these lawyers have thrown at us and did it with just amazing grace. You've seen them in court. You've seen what they can do and there's been some pretty memorable writing along the way from -- from each of them and you all saw a difference maker too when the judge ruled that we could bring prior bad acts in, Adrian handled that argument and just did a stellar job to get us in the position we're in.
Our law enforcement community, some of them are up here with me, all the folks from Cheltenham, Sergeant Shaffair (ph) who you saw testify on the stand but behind that testimony is thousands of hours of work, interviews, analysis and just plain good police work, to put together the case that he did.
[15:25:06] Our partners in this also have been the leaders of that, that police department, now Chief Frye, who has walked this walk with us and beforehand, John Norris, the chief who did the work and when we were looking to open up this case, he was -- he was adamant on what we should do and where we should go with it and he is a great man.
We got the quiet one over there, former Chief Shade, Detective Shade with our department and detective reap who I heard it may be your birthday today. Yes. We're all going to sing happy birthday now. (LAUGHTER)
These detectives worked really hard to reopen this case and throughout the whole process, and I couldn't be more proud of the entire investigative team. They are -- they're supported by the lieutenant from our major crimes, Chris Cooklyn (ph), deputy chief, Mark Byrne (ph) who has handled so much of these investigative efforts, Chief Gallen (ph), our chief county detective and all the support that they provide and have picked up in this.
Beyond the guilty verdict, there have been some other, I think, important outcomes in this case. As we understand, this has been important for sexual assault victims everywhere. But we did this case because a crime was committed against Andrea Constand and it happened in our jurisdiction and that was our duty to move forward on. And when you look at this and look at what Andrea has done to stand up and declare what happened to him, she has been a major factor in a movement that has gone in the right direction finally.
And her quiet courage and her actions through this have helped victims to stand up and tell what happened to them and I think now there's tremendous awareness of how these crimes have been covered up and papered over for the years and I hope and I pray that our actions have shown that we will stand up with those victims and all women that are out there standing up and telling their truth, I, we, support them and encourage them to keep it up. And I hope now everybody recognizes that here, you're going to be treated with dignity and respect through the process.
Another outcome has been increased. Look at rape myths or sexual assault myths. And that the myth that a victim of sexual assaults, especially by someone they knew or trusted will immediately report it to the authorities, they will behave in a certain way or they will never talk to anyone again. We've dispelled that here and that's because that's false and that's not always the way it goes. Too often these types of crimes, sexual assault do not get reported especially a case in where a drug has been used, and a drug facilitated sexual assault, an intoxicants so the victim does not have a clear memory of what went on. So we hope that this case sends a strong message that the victims of these types of crimes can come forward and be heard on what happened to them.
So there was a defendant in this case, the next steps. A sentencing date will be issued by the judge. That is typically within about a 60 to 90 day period of time on when the sentencing date will come. In the interim, he'll be looked at and assessed in a couple ways. There's a presentence investigation that will be done. There will be a sexually violent predator assessment that will be done and all of these are standard procedures in these type of cases. These assessments will then be used by the judge.