News

Judge to deadlocked Cosby jury: Keep trying to reach verdict

Written by Maryclaire Dale & Michael Sisak, The Associated Press | Jun 15, 2017 1:55 PM
cosby-closeup.jpg

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Bill Cosby walks from the Montgomery County Courthouse during his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pa., Thursday, June 8, 2017.

(Norristown) -- Jurors in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial said Thursday they are deadlocked on charges he drugged and molested a woman in 2004, but a judge ordered them to keep trying to reach a unanimous decision in a case that has already helped obliterate the TV star's career and nice-guy reputation.

The panel deliberated about 30 hours over four days before telling Judge Steven O'Neill they "cannot come to a unanimous consensus on any of the counts" against Cosby, 79, who is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

The judge sent them back to the jury room to keep talking and denied a defense motion for a mistrial. Hours later, the jury was still at it.

The sequestered jurors have appeared increasingly tired and upset after deliberating late into the night the past three days. Some jurors looked defeated as the judge ordered them to continue deliberating. One, more upbeat, nodded along.

The case involves Cosby's sexual encounter with Andrea Constand, 44, at his suburban Philadelphia home. Constand says Cosby gave her pills that made her woozy, then violated her. His lawyer says Cosby and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

Cosby's spokesman maintained 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.

Constand herself passed the time by shooting hoops in a hallway outside the district attorney's office. She tweeted a video Thursday that shows her shooting a mini-basketball into a net to the tune of "Sweet Georgia Brown," the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters. It ended with: "ALWAYS FOLLOW THROUGH."

Constand won a national title with the University of Arizona and played in a pro league in Europe before landing a job with Temple University women's basketball team. It was at Temple she met Cosby, a member of the school's board of trustees.

With the jury struggling to find common ground, some of the other women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault confronted sign-waving Cosby supporters gathered on the courthouse steps to await the outcome. But the atmosphere remained calm, with accusers and supporters even holding hands at times.

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 12-member jury must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit. If the panel can't break its impasse, O'Neill 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.

University of Pennsylvania law professor David Rudovsky, a criminal lawyer in Philadelphia, said Thursday that the stalemate didn't surprise him, given the nature of the case. He added a hung jury would be a victory for Cosby.

"In most criminal cases, anything short of a conviction is a win for the defense," said Rudovsky, who isn't involved in the case.

"It doesn't surprise me that this jury is split. The prosecution had a strong case, but the defense was able to show a lot of inconsistencies."

The jury, bused in from the Pittsburgh area, has paused a half-dozen times to revisit key evidence, including Cosby's decade-old admissions that he fondled Constand after giving her pills.

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

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.

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

An earlier story appears below. 

(Norristown) -- Jurors in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial said Thursday they are deadlocked on charges he drugged and molested a woman in 2004, but a judge ordered them to keep trying to reach a unanimous decision in a case that has already helped obliterate the TV star's career and nice-guy reputation.

The panel deliberated about 30 hours over four days before telling Judge Steven O'Neill they "cannot come to a unanimous consensus on any of the counts" against Cosby, 79, who is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

The judge sent them back to the jury room to keep talking and denied a defense motion for a mistrial.

The sequestered jurors have appeared increasingly tired and upset after deliberating late into the night the past three days. Some jurors looked defeated as the judge ordered them to continue deliberating. One, more upbeat, nodded along.

The case involves Cosby's sexual encounter with Andrea Constand, 44, at his suburban Philadelphia home. Constand says Cosby gave her pills that made her woozy, then violated her. His lawyer says Cosby and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

Cosby's spokesman maintained 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 12-member jury must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit. If the panel can't break its impasse, O'Neill 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.

Penn law professor David Rudovsky, a criminal lawyer in Philadelphia, said Thursday that the stalemate didn't surprise him, given the nature of the case. He added a hung jury would be a victory for Cosby.

"In most criminal cases, anything short of a conviction is a win for the defense," said Rudovsky, who isn't involved in the case.

"It doesn't surprise me that this jury is split. The prosecution had a strong case, but the defense was able to show a lot of inconsistencies."

The jury, bused in from the Pittsburgh area, has paused a half-dozen times to revisit key evidence, including Cosby's decade-old admissions that he fondled Constand after giving her pills.

As the jurors quit for the night Wednesday, O'Neill praised their diligence as they weigh charges that could put Cosby in prison for the rest of his life.

"This is an incredible jury that has just acted with incredible dignity and fidelity," O'Neill said. "I don't have any higher praise. You have taken your task so seriously."

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

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.

Cosby has wavered between stoic and smiling as he awaits his fate, but he gave a brief thumbs-up as jurors listened to a court reporter reread his January 2005 police interview.

In it, he claimed Constand showed no ill effects from the 1½ Benadryl pills he gave her to help her relax and that she never objected to his behavior during the encounter.

Constand testified she was paralyzed by the pills and unable to fight Cosby off.

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:

As deliberations in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial continue into a fourth day Thursday, nerves are frayed, patience is shot and no one is certain when it will all end.

Some jurors appeared angry, the judge sounded exasperated and accuser Andrea Constand's mother broke down in tears Wednesday.

The sequestered jury has been at it for more than 27 hours since getting the case Monday, pausing a half-dozen times to revisit key evidence, including Cosby's decade-old admissions that he fondled Constand after giving her pills.

The 79-year-old star arrived at the courthouse Thursday morning for the start of yet another day of jury talks. The panel has given no indication that it's deadlocked.

Judge Steven O'Neill has seemed vexed at times as the court staff struggled to answer the jury's requests. One batch of requested testimony hadn't even been transcribed yet.

But when jurors asked to stop for the day Wednesday night, O'Neill was effusive with praise -- encouraging their diligence as they weigh charges that could put the 79-year-old Cosby in prison for the rest of his life.

"This is an incredible jury that has just acted with incredible dignity and fidelity," O'Neill said. "I don't have any higher praise. You have taken your task so seriously."

Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each carries a maximum 10-year prison term, though the counts could be merged at sentencing if he is convicted.

The case has already helped demolish his nice-guy reputation as America's Dad.

Cosby has wavered between stoic and smiling as he awaits his fate, but gave a brief thumbs-up as jurors listened to a court reporter reread his January 2005 police interview.

In it, he claimed Constand showed no ill effects from the 1 1/2 Benadryl pills he gave her to help her relax, and that she never objected to his behavior during the 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home.

Constand testified last week that she was paralyzed by the pills and unable to fight Cosby off. Her mother, Gianna Constand, pulled a cloth from her pocket to wipe away tears Wednesday as she listened to the testimony.

Cosby's lawyers maintain Constand was a willing sexual partner.

Some jurors closed their eyes and tilted their heads down as they listened to the police interview. One slunk down in his seat, looking angry.

"Can you find 12 people who will agree? That's the question," said criminal lawyer Alan J. Tauber, who wasn't involved in the case.

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

Estate Planning

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 »