Autumn Jackson found guilty in Bill Cosby extortion trial

Autumn Jackson found guilty in Bill Cosby extortion trial

The woman accused of threatening to tell the tabloids she was Bill Cosby’s out-of-wedlock daughter unless he paid her $40 million was recently found guilty of extortion by a federal jury in New York.

The woman, Autumn Jackson, 22, broke down in tears after the jury convicted her on its third day of deliberations. Ms. Jackson was additionally convicted of conspiracy and crossing state lines to commit a crime. She faces up to 12 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. Sentencing is set for Oct. 22.

Jose Medina, 51, was convicted of the same three counts. A third defendant, Boris Sabas, 42, was convicted of crossing state lines, but acquitted of extortion charges.

In a statement released by their attorney, Bill and Camille Cosby called it a “just verdict.”

“The Cosbys appreciate the efforts of the prosecutors who brought this case and the efforts of the jurors who rendered a just verdict,” said attorney Jack Schmitt.

The trial in U.S. District Court in New York City pitted one of America’s most popular and wealthy superstar entertainers–“the world’s most famous father,” Jackson once said–against a college dropout who insisted she is his secret love child. Cosby admitted that he had an affair with her mother, Shawn Upshaw, but said he told Jackson she wasn’t his daughter.

The prosecution labeled Jackson, who did not testify, as a greedy, cunning blackmailer eager to use part of the Cosby fortune on a lavish spending spree. The defense portrayed her as a waif spurned by a father more concerned with protecting his lucrative image than accepting his daughter.

Juror David Henkel said the panel was swayed by testimony Jackson pressed on with demands despite a warning from Cosby’s attorney that it was extortion.

“The fact that they still carried it out was our convincing proof,” Henkel said. “She has problems.” Jackson’s attorney Robert Baum said outside the courthouse that his client was merely “negotiating” with Cosby over financial support. He promised an appeal and a possible paternity suit against Cosby.

Jackson left the courthouse without speaking to the media. Cosby testified during the trial and admitted that he had an affair in the mid-70s with Jackson’s mother. He acknowledged providing regular financial support to the mother and daughter.

But Cosby said he never admitted being Jackson’s father.

“I will be for you a father figure, but I am not your father,” Cosby recalled telling Jackson while urging her to pursue an education.

Jackson’s extortion scheme included coaxing the Globe supermarket tabloid into buying her story that she is Cosby’s illegitimate daughter, then faxing copies of the proposed $25,000 deal to Cosby’s lawyer.

The jury also listened to a tape of a phone conversation in which Jackson said she wanted $40 million “to settle it completely.”

“And if our answer to that is no?” responded Jack Schmitt, Cosby’s lawyer.

“Well, like I said, I have offers and I will go through with those offers,” Jackson said, apparently referring to the Globe contract.

Also that day, a fax to CBS-TV, which airs the “Cosby” show, said Cosby “the world’s most famous father” had left his daughter, “cold, penniless and homeless” and was signed Autumn J. Jackson-Cosby.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning