During deliberations in the Bill Cosby case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in suburban Philadelphia today, the prosecution and defense teams were unexpectedly called into the courtroom shortly before 3 p.m. It’s the fourth time that the jury has asked a question about the case since they began deliberations late Monday.
At 1:45 p.m. today, Judge Steven O’Neill said the jury foreman requested the court revisit the testimony of Andrea Constand, the woman accusing Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in his suburban Philadelphia home. Constand’s testimony, which accounts for more than 300 pages of court transcripts representing seven hours on the stand, was pinned down to the night of the alleged assault.
The court reporter read directly from the transcripts about that night, specifically Constand’s testimony about being given little blue pills she believed to be herbal supplements from Cosby, and ultimately the effects these pills had on her (rubbery legs and loss of consciousness, she told the court last week).
The transcripts also revisited the alleged assault in graphic detail, how Constand described waking up to Cosby’s hands touching her body, specifically how he slipped his finger in and out of her vagina. She said she could not fight back, and that it was only when she woke up hours later at approximately four in the morning, alone on Cosby’s living room sofa with her clothes disheveled and her bra pushed up, that she left Cosby’s home.
Prior to today’s rereading of court transcripts, the jury inquired about Cosby’s sworn statements, as well as testimony from investigators. The jury of ten Caucasians and two African-Americans is tasked with deciding whether Cosby is guilty of three counts of felony indecent assault charges for allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted Constand, a former sports director at Temple University, where the comedian served on the board of trustees. Over the course of the trial, the prosecution presented 12 witnesses in its case, while the defense called just one, alleging that the sexual-abuse allegations against Cosby are false, and that he and Constand enjoyed a consensual relationship.
As the court reporter read Constand’s testimony aloud, Cosby sat quietly in the courtroom, occasionally leaning forward or gazing toward the jury. The famous TV dad has been at the courthouse every day since the trial wrapped on Monday afternoon.
The courthouse, located about 20 miles from Center City, Philadelphia, has been the scene of much speculation this past week, particularly after Cosby’s defense team abruptly made its closing statements Monday. With press and curious onlookers camped out inside the courthouse, sprawled along the marble floors with laptops and cameras at the ready, and all along the perimeter of the stately building on the hill, the big question on everyone’s mind is how soon the jury could come back with a verdict in this closely watched case.
The talk among Philly lawyers on social media and in private is that the longer the jury deliberates behind closed doors, the more likely they are to come back with a verdict of not guilty, or even a mistrial. If Cosby is found not guilty on all of the felony charges, he will not be able to be tried again for the same charges. However, if the jury convicts Cosby on any or all of the three charges, the 79-year-old could face up to ten years in prison.
The worst-case scenario for both the defense and the prosecution would be a hung verdict or mistrial, a situation in which the jury simply cannot come to an agreed-upon verdict within a reasonable amount of time. If that happens, it would be up to prosecutors to decide whether to try the case again with a new jury.
Cosby, a graduate of Temple University, currently resides in Montgomery County with his wife of more than 50 years, Camille Cosby. Temple severed ties with the comedian after allegations emerged from dozens of women claiming Cosby drugged and raped them over the course of more than four decades. This is the first time Cosby has faced criminal charges.