NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The jury in Bill Cosby’s sex assault case hunkered down for a third day of deliberations Wednesday, out of sight of the growing horde of media and onlookers assembled on the courthouse steps to await a verdict.
Jurors passed the 20-hour mark as they considered allegations that the 79-year-old entertainer drugged and molested Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his gated estate near Philadelphia in 2004.
No one is disputing that there was a sexual encounter between the two and that Cosby gave her pills.
But Cosby said the pills were Benadryl, an over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine. Constand — an athletic, 6-foot-tall basketball staffer — believes it was something stronger, saying they made her overly tired and unable to say no to or fight his advances.
Cosby maintained that Constand was a willing sexual partner and she hid the fact that the two had a romantic relationship. Constand denied there was any romance between them and told jurors she had rebuffed his advances before the assault.
“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. “There were no bombshells or surprises in the trial. From what I read, they both argued very effectively.”
On Monday and Tuesday, the panel of seven men and five women reviewed portions of Cosby’s deposition from Constand’s lawsuit, as well as notes from her first police interview.
By Tuesday night, they looked exhausted.
“You’re conscientious. You are working hard. It is exhausting work and the day has to come to an end,” Judge Steven O’Neill told the sequestered jurors when they asked to return to their hotel at 9:20 p.m., after a 12-hour day. “Read nothing into this. This is how juries deliberate.”
On Wednesday morning, the panel resumed talks.
Cosby, once known as America’s Dad for his portrayal of kindly Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” told police he left Constand to sleep on the couch after their “romantic interlude” while he moved upstairs to his bedroom. The five-bedroom house was otherwise empty until the staff arrived at 7 a.m. the next morning.
Constand said she woke up, groggy, sore and disheveled, around 4 a.m. She said she got up to leave and found Cosby in the kitchen. He had a muffin and tea waiting for her, and she left.
The first prosecutor to review the case in 2005 passed on it. District Attorney Kevin Steele reversed course a decade later, after more women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct and the public release of his startling deposition in which he spoke about a string of liaisons with young women over the course of 50 years.
Cosby, who called all the encounters consensual, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each carries a maximum 10-year term, though the counts could be merged at sentencing if he is convicted.
The Rev. Andrew F. Kline, a vicar of a historic black church in Norristown who stopped by the courthouse steps Wednesday to check out the scene, said his congregation is “absolutely” talking about the case given Cosby’s place in their lives.
“He was huge. He was huge. He was a role model. He couldn’t escape that,” Kline said. “You probably want it on one level, as a celebrity. He made some powerful statements that people either said, ‘Yeah, Amen,’ or ‘That’s not the way we are.’
“So it’s always difficult to look under the hood and see the reality of our lives,” Kline said. “I pray for him. I pray for her. I pray for everybody here that justice be done, but that there be some mercy, too, right? I mean, we need to be about that.”
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.