Jurors in Bill Cosby's rape retrial said Monday that neither race nor the #MeToo movement factored into their guilty verdict.
In the lead-up to and after Cosby's retrial, legal experts and other accusers hailed the guilty verdict as a watershed moment in the reckoning of powerful men accused of sexual misconduct. But in a statement published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday, jurors said their decision "was not influenced in any way by factors other than what we heard and saw in the courtroom."
Cosby was found guilty last week of drugging and raping Andrea Constand at his home in 2004, becoming the first powerful man in the media industry to be held criminally liable during the great reckoning after a jury in the case deadlocked last year.
For Cosby's retrial, which unfolded over the course of roughly three weeks, prosecutors were able to call five other women who alleged they too were drugged by Cosby. Four of them testified that he also sexually assaulted them.
"Not once were race or the #metoo movement ever discussed, nor did either factor into our decision, as implied in various media outlets," the jury of seven men and five women wrote. "Simply put, we were asked to assess the credibility of Ms. Constand’s account of what happened to her, and each one of us found her account credible and compelling."
More than 60 women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the span of decades, but Constand’s allegation was the only criminal case to be brought, in large part because most of the accusations were too old to prosecute.
Experts had said the #MeToo-related cultural shifts that occurred since Cosby's mistrial would likely color how the jury viewed the evidence. Multiple other accusers who attended the trial also hailed the outcome in emotional speeches on the steps of the courthouse.
Lili Bernard, who alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in the 1990s, and others said they felt vindicated by the jury in a new age of #MeToo awareness.
"I feel like my faith in humanity is restored," she said.
But one of the jurors, 22-year-old Harrison Snyder, told ABC's Good Morning America that he hadn't heard of the hashtag adopted by victims to share stories of sexual abuse and assault.
Ultimately, after about 14 hours of deliberation, the jury made its decision with "100% conviction" to convict the 80-year-old comedian on three counts of sexual assault. Cosby now faces 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in the coming months.
"We used our diverse backgrounds and life experiences to broaden our individual perspectives for a thorough understanding of all that was presented," the jury wrote. "Each of us spoke of the weight of our responsibility we understood the consequences to human lives, to an American icon, and to all who are victims and we knew we needed to be comfortable with our decisions in order to be able to sleep at night with clear consciences.
"Each of us is walking away with that sense of peace, knowing we performed our duty in the manner it deserved."
Despite the jury's statement, criminal attorneys and former prosecutors told BuzzFeed News the Cosby trial will no doubt influence cases down the road.
"Nearly everyone who has been accused of sexual assault should be very nervous, because our cultural landscape has shifted, which will likely encourage district attorneys to prosecute cases they might otherwise have been nervous to bring at a different point in time," said Priya Sopori, a former federal prosecutor.
Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Manny Medrano agreed.
"This verdict will embolden prosecutors to move forward even on 'close' cases where the evidence might not be overwhelming, but the prosecutor feels he has a shot with the jury," he said. "Put another way, prosecutors will now file cases that historically they might have passed on."
Read the jury's letter in full here:
In a country built on a profound belief in the power of its citizens, few duties are more important than those of individuals asked to serve as fair and impartial jurors in our great justice system. Guided by the essential notion that all men are innocent until proven guilty, we, the jurors of the recent Cosby trial, are proud to say — with 100% conviction — that each of us performed our duties with firm adherence to these sacred principles.
After thoughtful and meticulous consideration of the information and evidence provided to us, we came to our unanimous verdict. Our decision was not influenced in any way by factors other than what we heard and saw in the courtroom. Not once were race or the #metoo movement ever discussed, nor did either factor into our decision, as implied in various media outlets.
Simply put, we were asked to assess the credibility of Ms. Constand’s account of what happened to her, and each one of us found her account credible and compelling. Our request for review of certain evidence during the deliberation process was a matter of due diligence; our thorough discussion of the evidence led to a decision with which we felt certain, but our collective commitment to the process called for even further confirmation. After that second review, we had absolutely no reservations. We used our diverse backgrounds and life experiences to broaden our individual perspectives for a thorough understanding of all that was presented. Each of us spoke of the weight of our responsibility we understood the consequences to human lives, to an American icon, and to all who are victims and we knew we needed to be comfortable with our decisions in order to be able to sleep at night with clear consciences. Each of us is walking away with that sense of peace, knowing we performed our duty in the manner it deserved.
The burden of sequestration for this Philly-spirited team of 18 was made lighter by the camaraderie of the group and the support and graciousness of the sheriffs and other court staff. These tireless stewards of the court went so far as to give those of us missing our four-legged family members a little taste of home with daily visits from Turks, the comfort dog who responds to commands that are spelled out and who made some very long days just a little bit more comfortable. While their work is serious, those who serve in the Montgomery County courts ensure that all called to play a role in that work are treated with respect and kindness.
While we are honored to have taken on this unique and important task, and are proud of the job we did, we are each anxious to return to our normal lives and ask for privacy and respect as we turn our attention back to the colleagues, friends, and family whose sacrifices in our absence were, in many cases, larger than our own. Thank you to all who contributed, directly or indirectly, to this right and just outcome.