As the fifth day of deliberations got started in the felony sexual-assault trial against Bill Cosby at the Montgomery County Courthouse outside of Philadelphia Friday morning, the court was called into session just before 10 a.m. The focus was twofold: to discuss the possibility of mistrial and to review the entertainer’s statements about furnishing quaaludes to women.
“Mr. Cosby, the court’s going to treat you as continuing to be under oath,” Judge Steven O’Neill announced before the jury filed in. He asked Cosby if he understood the requests for mistrial, all five of them, made by his defense this week.
“Yes,” Cosby said.
The judge went on to explain the concept of manifest necessity, and what exactly could happen if the jury in this case is unable come to a verdict. O’Neill was adamant that he would allow the jury to deliberate as long as they needed. Cosby, who was seated with his defense team, appeared calm and attentive.
After a short delay, the jury assembled in the courtroom with a question centered on Cosby’s admitted use of quaaludes with women. In the statements, the former TV star said he gave the drugs to women, and described the effects they had, notably like someone has had “too much to drink.”
Cosby also confirmed in the statement that he received multiple prescriptions for quaaludes by a doctor for his “sore back,” and that he regularly handed them out to women. He compared the recreational use of quaaludes during the 1970s to drinking.
“There were times I wanted to have them just in case,” Cosby said in the statement. He cited the appeal of the drug among the celebrity party set, and freely admitted using quaaludes during sex with women.
Since deliberations began late Monday, the jury has asked to review testimony from both Cosby and his accuser, Andrea Constand, a former women’s sports director from Temple University.
Today’s inquiry about the use of intoxicants, which is expected to weigh heavily on deliberations today, comes after Thursday’s news that jurors are deadlocked in the case. Yesterday afternoon, the jury foreman informed Judge O’Neill for the first time that the jury has been unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the three counts of felony indecent sexual assault against the entertainer.
The jury purportedly worked through dinner Thursday night before being dismissed after 9 p.m. It’s unclear whether the judge will send the jury back into deliberations if the 12 men and women still cannot reach a verdict today. As the waiting period stretches toward the weekend, attitudes have noticeably shifted at the courthouse, especially as the possibility of a hung jury looms. There’s also no word on whether the case will be retried in the case of a hung jury.
The 79-year-old Cosby is accused of drugging and assaulting Constand in his suburban Philadelphia home. The case, which was presented over the course of a week, called 13 witnesses in all, including Constand, who spent seven hours testifying. Cosby, whose statements were read to the court, never took the stand in his own defense.
The deadlocked jury has been deliberating for more than 40 hours. Each of the charges Cosby faces carries a maximum ten years in prison and fines of $25,000 each. The jury could conceivably find Cosby guilty of one, all or none of the charges. Alternatively, the case could end in a mistrial if the jury cannot reach a conclusion on any of the charges. Cosby faces no other criminal charges, though he has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women over the span of more than four decades.
Throughout the deliberations, Cosby accusers and supporters alike have been gathering outside the courthouse. Yesterday, a group of the comedian’s fans assembled with homemade signs showing their support for the celebrity. Lili Bernard, a woman who alleges Cosby drugged and raped her when she guest starred on his hit TV series in the 1980s, confronted supporters in what escalated into heated exchange. For the past few days, Bernard has been in Norristown awaiting a verdict.
No matter what happens in this criminal case, whether the verdict comes in hours, days or weeks, Cosby will also face a civil trial in California later this month. In that case, the comedian is accused of raping a 15-year-old at the Playboy mansion in 1974.