NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Jurors in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial reviewed portions of his accuser’s testimony Wednesday as they deliberated for a third day over whether the 79-year-old star drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia estate.
Jurors made the request to have portions of Andrea Constand’s testimony read back to them after deliberating about 21 hours without reaching a verdict in a case that has already helped demolish Cosby’s nice-guy reputation.
Constand, 44, who spent seven hours on the stand last week, was in the gallery as the jury scrutinized her story.
She testified that Cosby gave her pills that left her woozy, helped her to a couch and then violated her while she was passed out, unable to say no or fight his advances.
The jury had previously reviewed Cosby’s version of events, contained in a deposition he gave in 2005 and 2006 as part of Constand’s lawsuit against him and introduced by prosecutors at the criminal trial.
Cosby said he gave Constand three half-tablets of Benadryl, an over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine, to help her relax. His lawyers maintain Constand was a willing sexual partner.
Constand denied there was any romance between them and told jurors she had rebuffed his advances before the assault. She believes he gave her something stronger than Benadryl on the night she says he molested her.
“Can you find 12 people who will agree? That’s the question,” said criminal lawyer Alan J. Tauber, who wasn’t involved in the case.
Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each carries a maximum 10-year prison term, though the counts could be merged at sentencing if he is convicted.
The first prosecutor to review the case in 2005 passed on it. A new one, District Attorney Kevin Steele, reversed course a decade later, after dozens of women came forward to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct and after the public release of his startling deposition in which he spoke about giving the powerful sedative quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
The long-married Cosby, once known as America’s Dad for his portrayal of kindly Dr. Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show, called all the encounters consensual.
The Rev. Andrew F. Kline, a vicar of a historic black church in Norristown who stopped by the courthouse steps Wednesday to check out the scene, said his congregation is “absolutely” talking about the case given Cosby’s place in their lives.
“He was huge. He was huge. He was a role model. He couldn’t escape that,” Kline said.
“You probably want it on one level, as a celebrity. He made some powerful statements that people either said, ‘Yeah, Amen,’ or ‘That’s not the way we are.’
“So it’s always difficult to look under the hood and see the reality of our lives,” Kline said. “I pray for him. I pray for her. I pray for everybody here that justice be done, but that there be some mercy, too, right? I mean, we need to be about that.”
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.