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These coffee cups could cause a mistrial in the Cosby case

The cafe across the street from the Cosby trial has “believe and support survivors” coffee sleeves.
The sleeves were made by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

PHILADELPHIA — Opening arguments in the re-trial of Bill Cosby began Monday, and the judge has barred people in the courtroom from wearing or displaying anything “commenting upon matters related to the case.”

After all, Cosby’s 2017 trial, which ended in a hung jury, was inundated with buttons, T-shirts, bubble machines, and even a marching band outside that could be seen by entering jurors.

But the judge has no control over Sessano Café and Deli, a little restaurant about 200 feet from the Montgomery County courthouse where Cosby is being tried. Sessano does a brisk business with jurors, lawyers, and court officials. And right now, they're serving up coffee that comes with more than just a caffeine kick — it also comes with a political message.


The coffee sleeves at the deli read, on one side, “Support and Believe Survivors,” and on the other, “Help, Hope and Healing are available to survivors of sexual assault.”

Santino Ciccaglione, the owner of Sessano, didn’t buy the sleeves himself. Instead, he explained, someone came in to his restaurant recently and asked, “If we just give them to you, will you use them?" And his response was, "Of course. It’s a very positive message.”

The sleeves were made by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, and their materials have made it farther than just the restaurant across the street from the courthouse — during pre-trial proceedings, Cosby’s lawyers asked the judge to have a flier removed from the courthouse cafeteria that read “Believe and support survivors.”

It’s a delicate needle to thread, because if their materials keep showing up in court, it could give Cosby’s lawyers ammunition to ask for another mistrial — exactly the last thing the coalition wants.