NORRISTOWN, Pa. – Jury deliberations in the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby dragged on Friday as jurors asked to rehear more prosecution testimony and to review records of phone calls between the entertainer and his alleged victim after she said she was molested.
But there were no more indications of a deadlock since Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill directed them to keep trying to reach a verdict after jurors indicated Thursday they could not reach a unanimous decision on any of the three aggravated indecent assault charges.
O’Neill also denied a series of mistrial motions as defense lawyer Brian McMonagle complained about the lengthy deliberations and said the jury might not realize it has the option of advising the court it remains deadlocked.
Bill Cosby Jury Revisits Quaaludes Deposition as Judge Again Rejects Mistrial Request
“That’s my concern,” said McMonagle, saying jurors may be under the impression they must continue “until the cows come home.”
Cosby, 79, appeared tense and subdued as the jury asked a spate of questions throughout the day. The predominantly white jury of seven men and five women has now been pondering the charges longer than it took both prosecution and defense to present their cases. By dinner time on Friday, the jury had been deliberating about 50 hours.
The jury’s lengthy deliberations underscores how difficult sex-crime cases can be – especially when there is no DNA or other physical evidence that positively links a defendant to the crime. The prosecution of Cosby is a classic example of a “he said, she said” case.
The jury, selected last month in Pittsburgh, has been sequestered there since the trial began on June 5. If convicted, Cosby could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on each count.
In spite of the courtroom tension, Cosby tweeted an appreciation: “Thank you to all of my fans and supporters – here in Norristown and worldwide.” The plaza outside the courthouse has been a gathering place for both Cosby supporters and for other women who have accused the iconic comedian of drugging and assaulting them.
Cosby is charged with molesting Andrea Constand, then manager of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where the entertainer was a member of the board of trustees. Cosby has pleaded not guilty and maintains that his relationship with Constand was romantic and consensual.
The incident took place when Constand visited Cosby’s home outside of Philadelphia, in Elkins Park, Montgomery County, in early 2004. And while there were many similarities between what Cosby and Constand contend happened that night, there is one key difference: Cosby has maintained it was consensual while Constand insisted it was not.
O’Neill responded to two new questions from the jury in the afternoon: a request for the phone records and for a rehearing of the testimony by Constand’s mother, who had a phone conversation with Cosby during which, she said, the entertainer acknowledged that sexual activity occurred and apologized.
The phone records showed that, in the weeks and months after the alleged assault, Cosby and Constand continued to have telephone contact. The defense highlighted the dozens of times that Constand called the entertainer but the prosecution pointed out that she was often merely returning his phone calls.
Constand had testified that, as a Temple University employee, she did not want to offend a man who had been a major booster of the university.
Earlier in the day, jurors had asked for a redefinition of the legal concept of “reasonable doubt,” and to hear from Cosby’s 2005 deposition in which he insisted that what happened in early 2004 with the alleged victim was consensual.
But in a follow-up note, the jury said it wanted to rehear the part of the deposition about Quaaludes – a reference to Cosby’s acknowledgement that he had given the prescription pills to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
“As long as this jury wishes to continue to deliberate, I will let them deliberate,” said O’Neill, who is presiding over the trial in suburban Philadelphia.
Their questions suggest that jurors have been focusing on what Cosby has said about that night in January 2004 – and on what Constand told police and said in her testimony.
Constand is among dozens of women who have accused Cosby of drugging and molesting them but her allegation is the only one to prompt criminal charges, which were filed in December 2015 shortly before the statute of limitation was due to expire.
Constand, 44, now a massage therapist in Canada, testified last week that she met Cosby at a Temple game and that he became a friend and mentor. She said she went to his home that night to talk to him about her plan to leave Temple and embark on a new career path, and had told him she was tired and stressed.
She said that Cosby brought her three blue pills, saying they would help her relax and assuring her they were safe. Reluctantly, she said, she took the pills because she trusted him, but soon, felt woozy and had blurry vision. She testified the entertainer led her to a couch and she quickly became incapacitated and felt paralyzed as Cosby groped her breasts, inserted his finger in her, and put her hand on his penis.
Cosby, in a 2005 deposition, portrayed that night as a romantic event and said it was only Benadryl he had given her to help her relax. Cosby had given the deposition as part of a lawsuit filed by Constand that was later settled for an undisclosed sum. His testimony was sealed for years until parts of it were released by a federal judge in 2015 at the request of the Associated Press.