Months before a national reckoning on sexual harassment and assault would topple powerful men in entertainment, business and media, entertainer Bill Cosby stood trial in a suburban Philadelphia courtroom, accused of drugging and molesting a woman at his home in 2004.
The courtroom drama was one of the biggest Pennsylvania stories of 2017.
Jurors heard lurid testimony about the TV star once known as “America’s Dad” for his role as kindly Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” But the jury’s epic deliberation — which lasted more than 52 hours over six days — failed to produce a verdict, and the judge declared a mistrial.
With no resolution in his case, Cosby will likely dominate headlines into 2018: Prosecutors plan to try him again next year.
A look at some of the year’s other top stories:
TROUBLE AT PENN STATE
The Feb. 4 hazing death of a 19-year-old fraternity pledge at Penn State yielded criminal charges against 26 people. Tim Piazza drank heavily at a pledge party, then fell head-first down basement stairs — the first of several tumbles that left him mortally injured. Security camera footage seized by police revealed that fraternity members did little to help.
Months later, a grand jury accused Penn State officials of displaying “shocking apathy” about excessive drinking at Pennsylvania’s flagship university. Penn State, in turn, blamed national fraternities and their members, alumni and even parents for being unwilling to accept major reform.
Meanwhile, there were major developments in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
Penn State’s former president, Graham Spanier, and two other ex-administrators were sentenced to jail over their handling of a 2001 abuse complaint about Sandusky, the former assistant football coach convicted of child molestation. Tim Curley and Gary Schultz each spent a few months behind bars after pleading guilty, while Spanier remains free pending appeal of his conviction.
Pennsylvania lived down to its reputation for shady politicians.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, charged with accepting cash and gifts from cronies seeking legal favors, abruptly pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial and resigned from office. The Democrat was sentenced to five years in prison.
The mayor of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city was indicted on corruption charges that could land him in prison — but Allentown Democrat Ed Pawlowski won a fourth term anyway. Pawlowski, who has pleaded innocent to charges that he strong-armed city vendors for campaign contributions, goes on trial next month.
Meanwhile, anti-abortion GOP Rep. Tim Murphy left Congress within days of a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he’d urged his mistress, whom he thought was carrying his child, to get an abortion. The woman, it turned out, was not pregnant.
Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-largest commercial casino state, is betting that a major gambling expansion will help plug gaping holes in the state budget. Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation to make Pennsylvania the fourth state to allow online gambling. The expansion will bring casino games to airports and truck stops, and the state’s 10 existing larger casinos will be able to bid for the right to build smaller satellite casinos.
CITY OF CHAMPIONS
Another year, another victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh as the Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup and fifth overall. The Steelers missed another trip to the Super Bowl, falling in the AFC title game. In April, beloved Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, the son of the franchise’s founder, died at 84.
On the other side of the state, the Philadelphia Eagles racked up wins and won their division, but will have to pursue their first Super Bowl title without star quarterback Carson Wentz. The MVP candidate tore his ACL on Dec. 10 and was lost for the remainder of the season.
The owner of Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island, site of the nation’s worst accident at a commercial nuclear power plant, announced it will close the plant in 2019 … Eric Frein, who killed a state police trooper and critically wounded another in a 2014 sniper attack, was convicted and sentenced to die … Department store magnate Albert Boscov died at 87.