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June 18, 2017

Constand's attorney: Cosby trial gave voice to sexual assault victims

Shortly after a Montgomery County judge declared a mistrial Saturday in the grueling and emotional sexual assault trial of the comedian once known as "America's Dad," the attorney for Bill Cosby's main accuser said her client gave a voice to sexual assault victims.

Dolores M. Troiani, of the Berwyn law firm Troiani & Gibney, released a statement Saturday on behalf of Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who told jurors that Cosby gave her pills that made her woozy and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay paralyzed on a couch, unable to tell him to stop. The 2004 encounter at Cosby's suburban Philadelphia estate was the only one in a slew of accusations from scores of women against the entertainer that resulted in criminal charges.

"From the moment she revealed what had happened to her, Andrea sought to have this matter addressed in the criminal justice system," Troiani said. "We are confident that these proceedings have given a voice to the many victims who felt powerless and silenced."

Troiani also commended "those prosecutors who raised awareness that one of the hallmarks of drug-related sexual assaults is the [effect] the drug has on the victim's memory and ability to recall and were nonetheless willing to present this evidence to the jury."

The attorney also thanked jurors, a group of seven men and five women bussed in from Pittsburgh who deliberated for six days before declaring they were "hopelessly deadlocked." Jurors had said they were at an impasse on Thursday, but Judge Steven O'Neill bristled at resulting calls for a mistrial from Cosby's attorneys, saying he would let the jury work as long as it could to break the deadlock.

Nearly two weeks after the trial began on June 5, O'Neill accepted a defense motion for a mistrial on Saturday.

"We also wish to thank the jury for their tireless efforts and acknowledge their sacrifice," Troiani said.

While Constand waited for jurors to come to their decision on Thursday, she passed time shooting mini-basketballs in a hallway at the Mongomery County Courthouse in Norristown, and she tweeted a 25-second, slow-motion video of her shooting a ball through a hoop attached to a cart. A message appeared toward the end of the video that read, "Always follow through." 

Constand met Cosby at Temple when she worked there as director of operations for the university's women's basketball team. The tweet was her first during the trial, and she hasn't tweeted directly about the trial since.

But she did tweet out a graphic at 12:15 a.m. Sunday that read, "It doesn't matter if a cave has been in darkness for 10,000 years or half an hour, once you light a match it is illuminated."

Among many things, the Philadelphia native and Temple alumnus is known for his pioneering role as a starring African-American cast member on the popular 1960s television series "I Spy" and for his TV role as paternal Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s.

His team declared victory this weekend, if only temporarily. 

Prosecutors vowed to retry the 79-year-old, saying Constand supported the decision.

"She has shown such courage through this, and we are in awe of what she has done," District Attorney Kevin Steele said. "She's entitled to a verdict in this case."

No one from Cosby's real or TV families was in court Saturday when the case ended in a mistrial. Instead, Cosby emerged from the courthouse with his publicity team, which read a statement from his wife of 53 years, Camille Cosby, that accused the judge likely to retry him of arrogance and collusion with prosecutors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.