Jury in Bill Cosby sex assault case studies his deposition
NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The jury in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case, weighing charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life, drilled down Tuesday, June 13th on what the TV star said happened inside his suburban Philadelphia home and how he characterized his relationship with the accuser.
With deliberations stretching into the evening of a second day, jurors reviewed more than a dozen passages from a deposition Cosby gave more than a decade ago. They heard excerpts on a wide range of topics, from Cosby's first meeting with Andrea Constand to the night in 2004 she says he drugged and violated her.
As he described reaching into Constand's pants, Cosby testified, "I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped."
Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting Constand, 44. His lawyer has said they were lovers sharing a consensual sexual encounter.
The 79-year-old entertainer did not take the stand at his trial, but prosecutors used his deposition testimony — given in 2005 and 2006 as part of Constand's civil suit against him — as evidence.
As they pored over Cosby's words, the jurors appeared to struggle with some language in one of the charges against him: "without her knowledge." The jury asked about the phrasing Tuesday morning, but Judge Steven O'Neill said he could not define it for them.
The jury is considering three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. The third count covers Cosby's alleged use of pills to impair Constand before groping her breast and genitals.
Outside the courthouse, Constand's lawyers blasted the Cosby team Tuesday for releasing a statement from a woman who had been blocked from testifying at the trial.
Cosby's spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, read the statement from longtime Temple University official Marguerite Jackson, who said Constand told her of a plan to falsely accuse a "high-profile person" of sexual assault so she could sue and get money.
A judge blocked Jackson from taking the stand, ruling it would be hearsay. Constand said on the witness stand she did not know Jackson.
Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, told reporters that Jackson is "not telling the truth" and faulted Wyatt for circulating Jackson's statement while jurors were deliberating.
Jackson stood by her account, telling The Associated Press in a phone interview that Cosby's lawyers are "going to say whatever they need to say."
The jury, sequestered for the duration of the trial and unaware of the back-and-forth outside, reviewed the testimony of the police officer who took Constand's initial report.
Jurors were also keenly focused on what Cosby said about the pills he gave to Constand before their encounter, asking for the second time in deliberations to revisit a portion of the deposition in which the comedian talked about giving Constand "three friends."
"She sat with her back to the kitchen wall," Cosby said. "And there was talk of tension, yes, about relaxation and Andrea trying to learn to relax the shoulders, the head, et cetera. And I went upstairs and I went into my pack and I broke one whole one and brought a half down and told her to take it."
"Your friends," Cosby said he told her. "I have three friends for you to make you relax."
Cosby later told police the pills were Benadryl, an over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine. Constand — an athletic, 6-foot-tall college basketball staffer — said they made her dazed and groggy, and unable to say no or fight back when Cosby went inside her pants.
The defense insisted Constand was a willing partner and said she hid the fact that the two had had a romantic relationship when she went to police a year after the alleged assault. Testifying for more than seven hours last week, Constand denied there was any romance between them and told jurors she had rebuffed his advances before the assault.
Authorities declined to charge Cosby when she first came forward in 2005, but a new district attorney reopened the case in 2015 after Cosby's deposition was unsealed at the request of The Associated Press.
Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts, but they could be merged for sentencing purposes.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.