Testimony in Bill Cosby‘s sex assault retrial came to jarring halt Tuesday afternoon, when a defense attorney let slip that jurors in the comedian’s first trial had been unable to reach a verdict.
The utterance — mistaken or otherwise — came during a heated cross examination of prosecution witness Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist, by defense lawyer Kathleen Bliss.
Bliss, trying to get Ziv to admit she’d closely followed the case, referred to an undated article in Sky News about sex crimes in which Ziv had been quoted.
“The article reported you commenting on the jury’s inability to reach a verdict and convict Mr. Cosby,” Bliss said, before prosecutor Kristen Feden erupted from her chair and screamed “Objection!”
The parties immediately hustled into chambers for a sidebar.
The majority of jurors empaneled for Cosby’s retrial said they had some knowledge of the case, though some said they had no knowledge. No jurors were specifically asked if they were aware of last summer’s mistrial, when the Pittsburgh-area jury was unable to reach a verdict following nearly 60 hours of deliberations.
Cosby, 80, is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University staffer Andrea Constand in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania in 2004.
Ziv’s testimony continued after a visibly irate Judge Steven O’Neill resumed his spot at the bench and reminded jurors that questions weren’t evidence.
“Any evidence that may have occurred in the history of this case or may not have occurred in this case is not evidence,” he said tersely.
Bliss then asked Ziv, who was testifying about the often contradictory behaviors of sex assault victims, to “take the mystery out of it” and read her quote — which held no specific references to the June 2017 mistrial at all.
“When there are only two people there is always a he-said/she-said element, so who are you going to believe? It is hard to make judgments on credibility, so you rely heavily on physical evidence,” Ziv read.
In an unexpected twist, the first laughs of the trial came at Bliss’ expense minutes earlier, as Bliss tried to get Ziv, who said she only knew the general outlines of the case against Cosby, to admit she was lying.
“But you know about this case?” Bliss asked for a second time.
“I was called to testify … about this case,” Ziv responded, prompting a burst of giggles from the gallery.
At another point, the psychiatrist during her testimony called out Bliss for perpetuating what she called “the rape myth.”
“A very logical and rational response would be to feel revulsion [toward the perpetrator] —” the attorney started to ask.
“No,” Ziv retorted. “That’s the whole point of the rape myth, you just articulated the rape myth. No, it isn’t normal [to feel revulsion], that isn’t a natural response.”
Cosby smiles during victimology testimony
Unless he was thinking about having Pudding Pops with lunch,…
In his opening statements Tuesday, defense attorney Tom Mesereau painted Constand as gold digger who took advantage of a “lonely” older entertainer to get at his millions.
Phone records seen in the last trial show that some 100 phone calls were exchanged between Constand and Cosby after the alleged assault occurred, and before she reported it to authorities in 2005.
Earlier in Ziv’s testimony, Cosby — who leered as Constand recounted her accusations from the stand last summer — was caught smiling while the psychiatrist discussed how fearful a victim might be.
If convicted, Cosby faces up to 10 years behind bars on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.