In April 2019, Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel presented in Dallas, TX at the annual Crimes Against Women Conference on a jury selection topic entitled, “The Kavanaugh Effect,” which outlined the impact of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment and confirmation process on sexual assault cases. He discussed how that confirmation process has influenced jury selection in Ripley County and throughout the country in sexual assault cases and provided ideas moving forward.
While at the conference, Hertel met the team of prosecutors who prosecuted the celebrity, Bill Cosby, in two separate trials in Pennsylvania.
Hertel kept in contact with those prosecutors, hoping to have them come to Indiana to train prosecutors on obstacles they encountered while prosecuting such a high-profile case. Hertel coordinated with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, of which he is a member and serves on the Board of Directors, to bring the Cosby prosecutors to Indiana. During the Indiana Prosecutor’s Winter Conference, those prosecutors spoke to several hundred prosecutors and deputies, outlining the two trials. In both trials, Cosby had hired a team of defense attorneys to represent him and much of their strategy at times was to discredit his victims. Indiana prosecutors were given insight into the Cosby case and also advice on prosecuting high profile community members who are accused of committing crimes in their jurisdictions.
Hertel noted that the Commonwealth vs. Cosby case had many of the same issues prosecutors in Ripley County and throughout the country must navigate and overcome in sexual assault cases. Those issues include delayed reports from the victim, lack of or limited physical evidence, no eye-witness testimony, and very limited corroborative evidence of the victim’s testimony. Hertel echoed the remarks of the Cosby prosecutors that sexual assault cases are some of the most difficult for victims, law enforcement and prosecutors. However, Cosby’s conviction gave encouragement to those prosecutors attending that despite some of the difficulties in these cases convictions could be had.