Cosby trial alternate juror: 'I would have probably convicted'
PHILADELPHIA — A man who says he was one of six alternate jurors in Bill Cosby’s sexual-assault trial told a Pittsburgh radio station Monday he would have voted to convict and was “ridiculously sick” when the case against the 79-year-old entertainer ended in a mistrial.
Mike McCloskey, 43, said the seven men and five women who made up the panel didn’t share what caused them Saturday to hopelessly deadlock after five days of deliberations. But the alternate juror told radio station WDVE-FM, “I would have probably convicted based on the evidence I heard.”
McCloskey’s statements, the first public remarks about the case from any of the 12 jurors and six alternates, emerged as a battle shaped up among prosecutors, the trial judge, and the media over the release of jurors’ names, sealed since they were picked in Pittsburgh last month.
Hours after McCloskey spoke, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele filed a motion arguing that unsealing the names could stir an onslaught of attention that jeopardizes his plan to retry Cosby on aggravated indecent assault charges as soon as this year.
“If the press saturates the nationwide media market with stories about jury deliberations, including juror opinions about the evidence, it may make the parties’ ability to select a fair and impartial jury more difficult,” Steele wrote in the motion to Judge Steven T. O’Neill.
Cosby’s lawyers also said Monday they intend to oppose the release of juror names.
Citing the worldwide media attention on the case, O’Neill has kept the identities of the jurors under seal since they were selected in Allegheny County last month and bused to Norristown for trial. Before releasing the jurors Saturday, he cautioned them not to discuss their jury-room debate with reporters.
“It can never be clearer that if you speak up, you could be chilling the justice system in the future if jurors are needed in this case,” O’Neill told them.
The judge has said he intends to rule — possibly during or soon after a hearing Tuesday — on a request to release juror names filed by news organizations including Philadelphia Media Network, parent company of the Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com.
In a response to Steele’s motion, Eli Segal of Pepper Hamilton LLP, who is representing the media organizations, said prosecutors and defense lawyers are more likely to affect the retrial than any news account.
“The commonwealth’s and the defense’s extensive public comments about the case — including about evidence that the jury never heard — before, during, and after the trial will have a far greater impact on that process than would the comments of a few jurors,” he wrote.
In his radio interview, McCloskey said that he and the other alternates were kept secluded from the seven men and five women who deliberated for 52 hours. And he said that panel members did not discuss what led to the impasse or identify the holdouts on the bus ride after the jurors were discharged and escorted back to Allegheny County.
“I really thought there’d be a lot of chatter on the bus ride home but nobody wanted to talk about it,” he said. “It was complete silence. It was the craziest, eeriest bus ride I’d ever encountered.”
Given the judge’s sealing order, McCloskey’s status as an alternate could not be independently verified. He did not return calls for comment Monday.
But within hours of the jurors’ release, he had posted on his Facebook page that he had been an alternate on the Cosby trial, along with a photo of the Montgomery County juror badge he wore each day and the message “For all the doubters out there.”
In a second interview Monday, he told NBC News that the trial’s ambiguous outcome left him feeling sad for the case’s central accuser, Andrea Constand, a former Temple University athletics employee who testified that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004 at his Cheltenham residence.
“I felt like we let Andrea down,” he said. “I felt like we could have brought justice.”
He described a phone conversation secretly recorded by Constand’s mother in 2005 as the most compelling piece of evidence he heard throughout the trial.
In that call, Cosby apologized and described in graphic detail the sexual acts that occurred the night of the alleged attack, though Cosby maintained throughout that the liaison was consensual and that Constand appeared to enjoy it.
“It was ridiculously creepy,” McCloskey told WDVE. “He called himself a ‘dirty old man’ to her — the mom.”
But ultimately, McCloskey told the radio station, he found the experience of being summoned to leave home and sequestered away for two weeks with no ability to affect the outcome of the trial a frustrating one.
“I devoted two weeks of my life to being sequestered in Norristown, Pa. — and if you’ve ever been to Norristown, it’s horrible,” he said.
Throughout the trial, McCloskey and the other jurors were cloistered on the seventh floor of an undisclosed hotel and guarded around the clock by Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies.
Though they were allowed access to televisions and the internet, they were instructed not to look up any outside accounts about the case and were polled each morning by the judge to ensure they hadn’t been accidentally exposed to any such information.
Each night during the testimony phase of the trial, sheriff’s deputies tried to find private dining rooms at restaurants for the jury to share a meal together, said Sheriff Sean Kilkenny, who declined to name the restaurants or the hotel where they stayed. On every trip, they were escorted by two uniformed and two plainclothes deputies.
During their weekend off between the testimony and closing arguments, jurors attended church services, had leisure time and were given a bus tour of Philadelphia.
“They were interested in seeing some of the tourist and historical attractions in Philadelphia,” Kilkenny said. “We worked with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office and escorted them around on a tour that was provided by a touring agency.”
The sheriff said his office alone spent about $100,000 in trial-related costs, mostly to cover overtime pay. A county spokeswoman said the total cost will be calculated in the coming weeks, as the county receives invoices for other expenses, including housing and feeding jurors.
McCloskey, though, admitted to WDVE that when he found out he was selected for the jury he had only one concern on his mind — how he was going to watch his Pittsburgh Penguins as they returned to the Stanley Cup Finals.
When the team’s series against the Nashville Predators entered a critical Game 5 on June 8, O’Neill assured him he wouldn’t miss it. The judge paused testimony that evening with a question.
McCloskey recounted it Monday: “He looked over at me and said, ‘What time does the game start?’ “