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Deadlocked jury in Bill Cosby trial struggles to end impasse

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Four days after getting the case, deadlocked jurors in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial struggled to end their impasse Thursday on charges he drugged and molested a woman in 2004, the prospect of a mistrial growing larger even as the judge directed them to keep talking.

The jurors had deliberated about 30 hours before telling Judge Steven O'Neill they couldn't reach a unanimous decision on any of the counts against the 79-year-old comedian. The judge told them to try again for a verdict.

But after 9 p.m., the panel of seven men and five women was sent home for the night. They've been deliberating for nearly 40 hours over four days and will resume deliberations today.

The charges involve Cosby's sexual encounter with Andrea Constand, 44, at his suburban Philadelphia home. Constand says Cosby gave her pills that made her woozy, then violated her. His lawyer says Cosby and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

Cosby's spokesman maintained the impasse showed that jurors doubted Constand's story.

"They're conflicted about the inconsistencies in Ms. Constand's testimony," spokesman Andrew Wyatt said. "And they're hearing Mr. C.'s testimony, and he's extremely truthful. And that's created this doubt."

Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said only that the "jury is apparently working very hard." The district attorney's office declined to comment.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several of Cosby's accusers, stressed that no one should read into the jurors' announcement.

"This is not a vindication of anybody," she said. "This is not the end. It's not over until it's over. And it's not over yet."

Constand won a national title with the University of Arizona and played basketball in a pro league in Europe before landing a job with Temple University women's basketball team. It was at Temple she met Cosby, a member of the board of trustees.

With the jury struggling to find common ground, some of the other women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault confronted sign-waving Cosby supporters gathered on the courthouse steps to await the outcome. But the atmosphere remained calm, with accusers and supporters even holding hands at times.

Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby had drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.

The 12-member jury must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit. If the panel can't break the deadlock, the judge could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry the TV star or drop the charges.

Pennsylvania law professor David Rudovsky, a criminal lawyer in Philadelphia, said Thursday that the jurors' inability to agree on a verdict didn't surprise him, given the nature of a case that boiled down to Cosby's word against his accuser's and the legal meaning of consent.

He added a hung jury would be a victory for Cosby.

"In most criminal cases, anything short of a conviction is a win for the defense," said Rudovsky, who isn't involved in the case. "It doesn't surprise me that this jury is split. The prosecution had a strong case, but the defense was able to show a lot of inconsistencies."

The sequestered jurors have appeared increasingly tired and upset as deliberations dragged on. Some of them looked defeated as the judge sent them back to the jury room. One, more upbeat, nodded along.

The jury, bused in from the Pittsburgh area, has paused a half-dozen times to revisit key evidence, including Cosby's decade-old admissions that he fondled Constand after giving her pills.

Each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Cosby carries a maximum 10-year prison term, though the counts could be merged at sentencing if he is convicted.

The case has already helped demolish his image as America's Dad, cultivated during his eight-year run as kindly Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated The Cosby Show in the 1980s and '90s.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

Information from Tribune News Service was used in this report.

Deadlocked jury in Bill Cosby trial struggles to end impasse 06/15/17 [Last modified: Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:02pm]
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