Cosby judge could revisit issue of revealing names of jurors

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Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a mistrial in his sexual assault case in Norristown, Pa., Saturday, June 17, 2017.

The mistrial isn't as conclusive a failure as the most widely feared outcome, a not-guilty verdict.

NORRISTOWN-Saturday morning, Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill finally bent to the will of the jury and declared a mistrial in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case.

Jurors deliberated for more than 52 hours over six days before telling a judge they couldn't agree on whether the Cosby Show star drugged and molested Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

District Attorney Kevin Steele vowed to try the 79-year-old Cosby a second time, saying accuser Andrea Constand supported the decision. The case ended with a hung jury that was unable to decide whether or not to convict Cosby.

Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial has ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked and was not able to come to a decision.

The judge sought to comfort the jurors, at least one of whom fought back tears, calling their epic deliberation "one of the more courageous acts, one of the more selfless acts that I've seen in the justice system".

In civil lawsuits in the United States, plaintiffs need only show that the weight of evidence is on their side, meaning they have information to tip the scales above 50% in their favour, as opposed to criminal cases in which prosecutors must prove claims beyond a reasonable doubt.

Her lawyers lined up 13 other women who were ready to testify on similar allegations of being drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby. It's unclear how many jurors voted for conviction and how many wanted an acquittal.

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Pennsylvania law allows the public release of jurors' identities, but judges have discretion to keep them a secret under certain conditions.

Constand, now 44, initially went to police about a year after she said Cosby assaulted her, but a prosecutor declared her case too weak to bring charges.

Cosby's camp has said he turned down a plea deal that would have spared him jail time, but District Attorney Kevin Steele's spokeswoman, Kate Delano, said Monday: "We never offered him a plea deal". They say that releasing the names of the jurors could make it more hard to select an impartial jury in the next trial.

Former teen actor Barbara Bowman told her story to many media outlets in the years after Constand went public. The jurors' names haven't been made public and the split on the vote hasn't been disclosed, shrouding the case in mystery. He says he was "ridiculously sick" when he found out the main jury couldn't reach a verdict in the case. On Saturday, they came back and told O'Neill they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Still, legal experts say, it won't be impossible to find 12 people to sit in judgment of Cosby, who turns 80 next month.

"It was the craziest, eeriest bus ride I've ever taken", said McCloskey, 43.

The jurors' decision not to ask to rehear the experts' testimony could be an indication that they accepted their opinions at face value or, conversely, that they were unimpressed.

In December 2015 - five months after 35 other women offered similar accounts of sexual assault at the hands of Bill Cosby in a NY cover story - Montgomery County prosecutors charged him with three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault.

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