NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania — After 12 hours of deliberation Tuesday, the jurors in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case had enough, telling court staff they were exhausted. Judge Steven T. O’Neill sent them back to their hotel at 9:15 p.m. with a warning they should be careful about what they say to their loved ones. Their deliberations, which have stretched 16 hours, will resume Wednesday morning.
During their full day of deliberations Tuesday, the jury grappled with nettlesome unresolved questions at the heart of the sexual-assault case.
Through three notes to the presiding judge, the jurors signaled possible divisions as they asked to take a new look at the premier pieces of evidence presented by each side in the fiercely contested trial. Some on the seven-man, five-woman panel appeared weary late Tuesday when they filed into the courtroom to have a question answered. Three of the men had rolled up their sleeves.
Supporters of Cosby’s accuser, Andrea Constand, were heartened early Tuesday and the defense team appeared crestfallen when the jury reentered the courtroom to once again listen to the judge read potentially damaging testimony Cosby gave in a decade-old civil suit. In a deposition he gave after Constand sued him in 2005, Cosby boasted of giving her pills that he called her “three friends” and described his sexual encounter with her in graphic terms. (The entertainer maintains that their intimate encounter was consensual.)
Cosby’s defense team was all smiles 6½ hours later, though, as the jury asked to rehear the defense’s best evidence: a transcript of a Canadian police detective describing an interview in which Constand made multiple factual statements that she later changed. (Constand, a Temple University women’s basketball staffer who was 30 at the time of the alleged assault, was living in Canada when she decided to report it.)
In the interview, Constand said she’d never been alone with Cosby before the night in early 2004 when she says he drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home. She also said the assault took place after she’d returned to Cosby’s home with him after a dinner at a restaurant with some others in March 2004.
In later police interviews, Constand said she had spent time alone with Cosby at his home before the alleged assault, including one night when he tried to unzip her pants and kiss her. She also revised her account of the circumstances of the alleged assault, saying it took place when she went to Cosby’s house for career advice in January 2004-not after a dinner out.
Besides asking for evidence, the jurors also sought clarification from the judge about a nuance of the charges against the 79-year-old comic legend. Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault, each with slightly different criteria for arriving at guilty verdict. One required the jury to find that Constand could not “consent,” another that she was “unconscious,” and a third that Cosby “administered an intoxicant.” Judge O’Neill, however, declined to provide more information.
The jurors, despite the long hours of deliberation, seemed intent on delving into the nuances of the case in granular detail. Late Tuesday, O’Neill gave them various options for getting an answer to their question about the Canadian police report. The most detailed would be a full reading of the Canadian officer’s testimony about the report.
In the jury box, a middle-aged woman with red dyed hair-presumably the foreperson-turned to gauge the reaction of her fellow jurors. Then she turned back to address the judge: “Testimony, your honor.”