News

At impasse, Bill Cosby jury tests patience of judge, defense

Written by Maryclaire Dale & Michael Sisak, The Associated Press | Jun 16, 2017 10:46 AM
billcosby-615.jpg

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Bill Cosby waves to people calling out to him as he walks from the Montgomery County Courthouse during his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pa., Thursday, June 15, 2017.

(Norristown) -- The jury in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case tested the patience of defense lawyers and even the judge on the fifth day of deliberations Friday as it repeatedly asked to run through testimony from the TV star, his accuser and others, struggling to break a deadlock that threatens to end the trial without a verdict.

With deliberations running about as long as the testimony of all the witnesses combined, the 79-year-old TV star's lawyer complained that jurors were seeking a replay of the entire trial.

Judge Steven O'Neill twice refused defense requests for a mistrial, declaring that jurors could talk as long as they wanted over allegations that Cosby drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004.

But even the solicitous judge had his limits, putting his foot down late Friday afternoon when the jurors asked to hear a sliver of testimony they'd just had read back to them. The judge told them they had to rely on their collective memory.

As the panel deliberated charges that could send Cosby to prison for the rest of his life, Cosby tweeted thanks to his fans and supporters.

The case has already helped demolish Cosby's image as America's Dad, cultivated during his eight-year run as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s and '90s.

Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.

On Friday, the jury asked to review multiple pieces of evidence, including Cosby's 2006 deposition testimony about quaaludes, a now-banned party drug.

Cosby, who gave the deposition as part of Constand's lawsuit against him, said he got seven prescriptions for the powerful sedative in the 1970s for the purpose of giving them to women with whom he wanted to have sex.

The testimony is relevant because Cosby is charged with giving pills to Constand, a former Temple University employee, to incapacitate her before their sexual encounter. He has said it was Benadryl, a cold and allergy medicine. Prosecutors have suggested he gave her something stronger, perhaps even quaaludes.

The jurors also listened to the definition of reasonable doubt, the threshold that prosecutors must cross to win a conviction, and reviewed testimony from Constand and her mother about phone conversations they had with Cosby after the encounter. According to the testimony, Cosby called himself a "sick man" but refused to identify the pills he gave to Constand.

Cosby's lawyer, Brian McMonagle, has said Cosby and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

McMonagle objected in court to the panel's repeated requests to review testimony, saying it suggested some jurors were trying to coerce other jurors in an attempt to bring an end to the deadlock.

"They were here!" said McMonagle, exasperated.

The judge said he saw no evidence of coercion or trouble in the deliberating room after the jurors reported their impasse on Thursday and he instructed them to keep trying for a verdict.

"There's a misperception that there's a time limit," the judge said.

The panel got the case on Monday. It must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit.

If the panel can't break the deadlock, the judge could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry Cosby or drop the charges.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

___
For more on Cosby, including trial updates, historical photos, videos and an audio series exploring the case, visit http://www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial.

An earlier story appears below.

(Norristown) -- Bill Cosby thanked his fans and supporters on Friday as a jury deliberated sexual assault charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life, tweeting shortly after the panel asked to review his testimony about giving drugs to women with whom he wanted to have sex.

It was the first Twitter message from Cosby in more than a week and came as jurors spent a fifth day in talks, trying to break an impasse that has raised the possibility his trial will end without a verdict. The defense said the jury had struggled with the charges long enough, twice asking for a mistrial Friday.

Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle objected in court to the panel's repeated requests to review testimony, saying it suggested some jurors were trying to coerce other jurors in an attempt to bring an end to the deadlock.

"They were here!" said McMonagle, exasperated.

Judge Steven O'Neill said he saw no evidence of coercion or trouble in the deliberating room after the jurors reported their impasse on Thursday and he instructed them to keep trying for a verdict.

"There's a misperception that there's a time limit," the judge said, adding he'd let the jurors work as long as they wanted.

On Friday, the panel listened again to what Cosby had to say about his use of quaaludes, a now-banned party drug.

Cosby testified in a 2006 deposition that he got seven prescriptions for the powerful sedative in the 1970s for the purpose of giving them to women before sex.

The testimony is relevant because Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Cosby, 79, has said he gave Benadryl to Constand, 44, before a consensual sexual encounter. Prosecutors have suggested he might have given her quaaludes.

Cosby, who gave the deposition as part of Constand's lawsuit against him, said in 2006 he never took quaaludes himself, preferring to keep them on hand for social situations.

"When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?" Cosby was asked.

"Yes," he answered.

But he said he no longer had the sedative -- a highly popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the U.S. in 1982 -- when he met Constand in 2002 at Temple University.

Cosby's lawyer said he and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

The jurors went back to the deliberating room after having the quaaludes testimony read back to them and listening again to the definition of reasonable doubt, the threshold that prosecutors must cross to win a conviction. After a lunch break, jurors were expected to review testimony from Constand and her mother about phone conversations they had with Cosby after the encounter.

The panel got the case on Monday. It must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit.

If the panel can't break the deadlock, the judge could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry Cosby or drop the charges.

The case has already helped demolish Cosby's image as America's Dad, cultivated during his eight-year run as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s and '90s.

Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

___
For more on Cosby, including trial updates, historical photos, videos and an audio series exploring the case, visit http://www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial.

An earlier story appears below.

(Norristown) -- Jurors considering the fate of Bill Cosby at his sexual assault trial asked for a definition of "reasonable doubt" on their fifth day of deliberations Friday, a day after telling the judge they were deadlocked on all charges.

The panel also asked to rehear parts of the 79-year-old comedian's deposition testimony. Cosby gave the deposition more than a decade ago as part of accuser Andrea Constand's lawsuit against him. He testified then that he had given Constand pills before a sexual encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Jurors made the requests a few minutes after resuming deliberations. They have been working for more than 40 hours since getting the case on Monday.

Cosby is charged with three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault over allegations that he drugged and sexually violated Constand, 44. A conviction could put Cosby in prison for the rest of his life.

Cosby's lawyer said he and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

Judge Steven O'Neill said Friday that defense lawyers have made at least four bids for a mistrial as the deliberations have worn on without a verdict. But he said he'd let the jurors work as long as they wanted. The judge brought Cosby into court to make sure he'd approved of the mistrial requests, asking the comedian if he knew that a mistrial would mean he could be prosecuted again.

O'Neill also called out Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt for taking to the courthouse steps and telling reporters the case should end in a mistrial.

"You have a spokesman who is explaining to the media what a mistrial means -- at least what he believes a mistrial is," O'Neill told Cosby in court.

Wyatt had said the deadlock showed that jurors doubted Constand's story.

"They're conflicted about the inconsistencies in Ms. Constand's testimony," he told reporters on Thursday. "And they're hearing Mr. C.'s testimony, and he's extremely truthful. And that's created this doubt."

Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said only that the "jury is apparently working very hard." The district attorney's office declined to comment.

Jurors continued their work a day after telling the judge they were unable to reach agreement on a unanimous verdict. O'Neill told them to continue deliberations in the hopes of breaking their impasse.

Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby had drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.

Jurors who had appeared stressed and even angry leaving court on previous nights seemed more upbeat as they departed Thursday night, despite enduring another marathon session.

As the jurors left for the day, O'Neill heaped praise on them, thanking them for their dedication and the sacrifice they've made being 300 miles (480 kilometers) from home in the Pittsburgh area.

"I want to reiterate how proud I am of each and every one of you," O'Neill said as he sent the sequestered jury back to the hotel. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you've done."

The jury must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit. If the panel can't break the deadlock, the judge could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry the TV star or drop the charges.

The case has already helped demolish his image as America's Dad, cultivated during his eight-year run as kindly Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s and '90s.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

An earlier story is below:

A new round of deliberations is raising the prospects that Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial will end with a verdict instead of a hung jury.

Jurors who have appeared stressed and even angry seemed more upbeat as they left court outside Philadelphia Thursday night than on previous nights, despite enduring another marathon session.

The sequestered jurors had deliberated about 30 hours before telling Judge Steven O'Neill earlier Thursday that they couldn't reach a unanimous decision on any of the counts against the 79-year-old comedian. The judge told them to try again for a verdict.

As the jurors left for the day, O'Neill heaped praise on them, thanking them for their dedication and the sacrifice they've made being 300 miles (482 kilometers) from home in the Pittsburgh area.

"I want to reiterate how proud I am of each and every one of you," O'Neill said as he sent the jury back to the hotel. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you've done."

They will get back to it Friday morning.

Cosby is charged with three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from Andrea Constand's allegations that he drugged and violated her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Each count carries a maximum 10-year prison term, though the counts could be merged at sentencing if Cosby is convicted.

Cosby's lawyer said he and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

The jury of seven men and five women have deliberated for nearly 40 hours since getting the case Monday.

Cosby's spokesman said the impasse showed that jurors doubted Constand's story.

"They're conflicted about the inconsistencies in Ms. Constand's testimony," spokesman Andrew Wyatt said. "And they're hearing Mr. C.'s testimony, and he's extremely truthful. And that's created this doubt."

Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said only that the "jury is apparently working very hard." The district attorney's office declined to comment.

Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby had drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.

The jury must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit. If the panel can't break the deadlock, the judge could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry the TV star or drop the charges.

The case has already helped demolish his image as America's Dad, cultivated during his eight-year run as kindly Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s and '90s.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

Published in News

Tagged under

back to top

Give Now

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »