By MARYCLAIRE DALE and MICHAEL R. SISAK, Associated Press
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — 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.
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.
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.
For more on Cosby, including trial updates, historical photos, videos and an audio series exploring the case, visit www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial.