After only 14 hours of deliberation, a Pennsylvania jury unanimously returned a “guilty” verdict in the Bill Cosby trial. Many attribute the verdict to the testimony given by other women who claimed to have also been victimized by the 80-year-old star. Each of the three felony counts against Cosby carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. If he receives the maximum penalty, Cosby will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
What criminal charges were filed against Cosby?
Bill Cosby was charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. These charges were based on allegations made by Cosby’s victim. According to the Temple University employee, Cosby administered an intoxicating substance that prevented her from resisting his sexual advances. Cosby then reportedly penetrated her genitals with his fingers without her consent.
In Pennsylvania, aggravated indecent assault is defined as nonconsensual “penetration, however slight, with another person’s genitals or anus.” Consent will not exist when:
- The victim expressly makes it clear that they do not want to participate
- Participation is compelled using force or the threat of force
- The victim was unconscious or unaware of the activity
- The victim was subdued and prevented from resisting
- The defendant administered an intoxicating substance which prevented the victim from consenting
- The victim suffered from a mental defect or disability
- The victim was under the age of 13, or
- The victim was under the age of 16, and the victim was at least 4 years older.
Each of the counts against Cosby addressed a different violation of Pennsylvania’s law. The first involved sexual penetration without consent, the second involved sexual penetration with an unconscious victim, and the third involved administering an intoxicating substance to a victim prior to sexual penetration.
How did the prosecutors prove that Cosby’s victim did not consent to the sexual activity?
Cosby’s primary defense was that his victim had, in fact, given her consent to engage in sexual activity with him. Since the state had the burden of proof in establishing Cosby’s guilt, they needed to establish that he acted without consent. The primary argument was that the victim was unable to resist and given consent because she was drugged by the star.
Since the incident took place back in 2004, the state could not really rely on chemical tests to establish that she had intoxicating substances in her system. Instead, the state relied on a phone conversation between the victim’s mother and Cosby, as well as the testimony of other women who reported to have also been victimized in a similar way by the star. Pennsylvania law permits the state to use testimony in this way to establish a pattern of misconduct. Apparently, the jury was persuaded by the state’s evidence against Cosby.
What charges would Cosby have faced if the crime had been committed in Chicago?
For the most part, each state has the authority to define what is an is not a crime within its own boundaries. While sex-related offenses are generally prohibited across the country, the specific elements of each criminal offense can vary from state to state. For example, Illinois does not have a law prohibiting “aggravated indecent assault.” This doesn’t mean that Bill Cosby would not be charged with a crime if he had committed these acts in Chicago.
Instead, Cosby would be charged under the Illinois state law that addressed his specific actions. In this case, Cosby would have likely faced charges for sexual assault. In Chicago, sexual assault is defined to mean “engaging in unlawful sexual penetration.”
What are the penalties for aggravated indecent assault?
Aggravated indecent assault is a felony in Pennsylvania, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Since Cosby was found guilty on three separate counts, his criminal sentence could include up to 30 years behind bars.
In addition to imprisonment, Bill Cosby will also be required to register with the state of Pennsylvania as a sex offender. Since his crime was so reprehensible, there will be a hearing to determine whether he should be classified as a sexually violent predator. This classification would require Cosby to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, complete monthly counseling programs, and limit his freedoms after release from prison.
How can I fight sexual assault charges in Chicago?
The best way to fight criminal charges for sexual assault in Chicago is by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Kostopoulos Law Group, our Chicago sex crime attorneys understand that even an allegation of sexual misconduct can jeopardize your future. We will aggressively defend you against any accusations of wrongdoing and fight to secure the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Call us today to request a free consultation. We will review your case, explain your rights, and address any concerns you may have.
Kostopoulos Law Group
125 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 300A
Chicago, IL 60606