NORRISTOWN, Pa. — After saying it was deadlocked on all three charges against Bill Cosby, the jury in the entertainer’s sexual assault trial continued efforts to reach a verdict on Thursday evening, hours after the judge ordered jurors to try to resolve the impasse.
The jury has been silent since then: No more questions. No more stalemate notes. Jurors had another dinner here at the courthouse in suburban Philadelphia, and apparently are still talking things out.
Earlier in the fourth day of deliberations, the jury signaled the problem. “We cannot come to a unanimous consensus on any of the charges,” the jury foreperson wrote in a note to Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill just after 11 a.m.
Cosby, 79, stood and watched closely as the predominantly white jury of seven men and five women filed into the courtroom, most appearing weary and glum. As of Thursday evening, the jury has been considering the case for more than 37 hours.
The judge denied a defense request for a mistrial. “It’s simply inappropriate at this time,” O’Neill said outside the presence of the jury.
The judge responded to the grim missive from the jury by reminding panel members that it is their duty to try to reach a decision, even on some of the charges. “If after further deliberations you are still deadlocked on some or all of the charges, you should report that to me,” the judge told jurors.
The jury, selected last month in Pittsburgh and sequestered here for the duration of the trial, is considering three aggravated indecent assault charges against the legendary entertainer. If convicted of all three charges, Cosby could be sentenced to up to 10 years on each count.
While a hung jury would trigger the possibility of a retrial, it would be a far better outcome for Cosby than any finding of guilt.
As usual, Cosby left the courtroom on the arm of his publicist, Andrew Wyatt, and went back to a room at the courthouse where he has been waiting during the deliberation process.
Wyatt said that Cosby is weary, but still optimistic about the outcome. “He’s holding up pretty well,” Wyatt said. He added that Cosby, who has been huddled in a room near the courtroom with his defense lawyers and publicists, has been talking about his years in the entertainment industry.
“He’s telling old Hollywood stories,” Wyatt said. He said he was talking about the old days with friends Sammy Davis Jr., Redd Foxx, and others, and wondering “what they would be saying if they were here today.”
Cosby is accused of molesting Andrea Constand, then manager of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where the entertainer was a major booster and 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 there were many similarities between what Cosby and Constand contend happened that night, but one key difference: Cosby has always maintained it was consensual while Constand insisted it was not.
Since jurors began considering the case on Monday evening, they have appeared closely focused on what the iconic comedian has said about that night in January of 2004 — and on what Constand told police and said in her testimony.
While there appeared to be informal indications of a struggle for consensus, the jury did not indicate a deadlock until Thursday’s morning note, and it is unclear whether jurors have resolved the impasse. O’Neill told them that even if they couldn’t reach a decision on all the charges, they could reach a partial verdict.
So for now, the wait continues.
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.
Gloria Allred, a well-known women’s rights lawyer who represents some of the women who have accused Cosby of molesting them, said she’s still hoping for a verdict. “A verdict is still possible,” she said in a brief interview. “I have no idea if it’s probable, but it’s still possible.”
The trial has drawn about six other alleged victims, who have been camped out at the courthouse in a bid of support of Constand.
Jewel Allison, one of the alleged victims, said she was buoyed by the experience of attending the trial. “I got a lot more coming here this week than I thought I was going to get,” said Allison, who remained hopeful for a verdict. “We’re praying. Now it’s in God’s hands.”
But the atmosphere on the plaza at the courthouse took on an almost carnival-like mood, as some people brought signs in support of the iconic comedian while others spoke their minds about what they said he had done to them
But everyday business went on as well.
One prisoner in handcuffs exiting another courtroom got a chance to kiss his six-month-old baby as he was led away by sheriff deputies. A man with a job interview had to work his way through the crowd outside the courtroom. And one of the many sheriff deputies on duty just went about business. “Living the dream,” he said.
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 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 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 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.
“I was frozen,” she told the jury.
Cosby, in a 2005 deposition, portrayed that night as a romantic event and said it was only Benadryl he had given 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.
During the trial, Cosby, who has been described as legally blind, has been supported by longtime friends and a few actors, including Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Cosby’s TV daughter, Rudy, on “The Cosby Show.” The show remained popular in reruns long after the TV series ended in 1992, but was pulled as the accusations of sexual assault delivered a major blow to his once-beloved reputation.
The entertainer has said he planned a comeback if cleared of the charges.