June 16, 2017
NORRISTOWN – The judge at Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial is bristling at repeated defense requests for a mistrial as the jury asks to rehear yet more testimony on its fifth day of deliberations.
Judge Steven O'Neill said Friday that he'll let jurors work as long as they want as they try resolving a deadlock that threatened to end the case without a verdict.
After a lunch break, jurors are expected to rehear testimony from accuser Andrea Constand and her mother about phone calls with Cosby.
O'Neill criticized the Cosby team for what he says is a "misperception that there's a time limit" on how long deliberations can last.
Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle argued the court was "being asked to review the entire trial" with the jury's repeated requests to rehear testimony.
Earlier Friday, Cosby thanked his fans and supporters, sending a tweet shortly after the panel asked to review his devastating testimony about giving drugs to women he wanted to have sex with.
It was the first Twitter message from Cosby, 79, in more than a week as the jurors try to break their impasse.
The panel returned to the courtroom to listen to what Cosby had to say about his use of the now-banned party drug quaaludes.
Cosby testified in a 2006 deposition that he got seven prescriptions for the powerful sedative in the 1970s for the purpose of giving them to women before sex.
The testimony is relevant because Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his Cheltenham Township home in 2004.
He has said he gave Benadryl to Constand, 44, before what he insisted was a consensual sexual encounter. Prosecutors have suggested he might have given her quaaludes.
Cosby, who gave the deposition as part of Constand's civil lawsuit against him, said in 2006 he never took quaaludes himself, preferring to keep it on hand for social situations.
"When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?" Cosby was asked.
"Yes," he answered.
But he said he no longer had the quaaludes — a highly popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the U.S. in 1982 — when he met Constand in 2002 at Temple University.
Cosby's lawyer said he and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.
Jurors also asked for the definition of "reasonable doubt" on Friday, a day after telling the judge they were deadlocked on all charges and the judge instructed them to keep trying for a verdict.
The panel has been working for more than 40 hours since getting the case on Monday.
The jury went back to the deliberating room after having the quaaludes testimony read back to them and listening again to the definition of reasonable doubt, the threshold that prosecutions must cross to win a conviction.
O'Neill called out Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt for taking to the courthouse steps and telling reporters the case should end in a mistrial.
"You have a spokesman who is explaining to the media what a mistrial means — at least what he believes a mistrial is," O'Neill told Cosby in court.
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 jury must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit. If the panel can't break the deadlock, the judge 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.
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.