NORRISTOWN, Pa. — As jury deliberations in the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby entered the fifth day, the judge on Friday morning said he has rejected defense requests for a mistrial and would allow jurors to consider the charges against the legendary entertainer for as long as they want.
“As long as this jury wishes to continue to deliberate, I will let them deliberate,” said Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill, who is presiding over the trial in suburban Philadelphia.
O’Neill also responded to two new questions from the jury: a request for a redefinition of the legal concept of “reasonable doubt,” and a request to hear more from Cosby’s 2005 deposition in which he insisted that what happened in early 2004 at his home outside Philadelphia with alleged victim Andrea Constand 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.
On Thursday, the jury of seven men and five women said it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the three aggravated indecent assault charges — but at the urging of O’Neill, panel members resumed deliberations and spent the rest of the day and evening behind closed doors.
The predominantly white jury, selected last month in Pittsburgh, has been sequestered here since the trial began on June 5. If convicted, Cosby could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on each count.
The jury’s difficulties with the charges highlight a well-known fact in the criminal justice system: sex-crime cases are notoriously difficult — 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.
Cosby is accused of molesting Constand, then manager of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, where the entertainer was a major booster and board of trustees member. Cosby has pleaded not guilty and maintains that his relationship with Constand was 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 has insisted it was not.
Since jurors began considering the case Monday evening, they have appeared closely focused on what the iconic comedian has said about that night in January 2004 — and on what Constand told police and stated 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 of 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 a 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 Cosby brought her three blue pills, saying they would help her relax and assuring her they were safe. Constand said she reluctantly took the medication because she trusted him, but felt woozy and had blurry vision soon after. She testified that 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 he had given her only Benadryl to help her relax. Cosby had made 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.
Defense lawyer Brian McMonagle has been moving for a mistrial based on the length of the jury’s deliberations — more than 40 hours — and on the note indicating a stalemate.