Bill Cosby trial wraps up for third day without a verdict

Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — With fatigue appearing to set in, 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 but ended the day without a verdict in a case that has already helped demolish Cosby’s nice-guy reputation. They will resume deliberations Thursday morning.

The panel of seven men and five women worked late for the third night in a row, asking for testimony about a detective’s interview with Cosby in early 2005, about a year after Constand says the comedian assaulted her. They ordered strombolis for dinner while a court reporter raced to transcribe that portion of last week’s testimony.

As deliberations crossed the 27-hour mark, some jurors closed their eyes and tilted their heads down as a court reporter reread Cosby’s January 2005 interview. One slunk down in his seat, looking angry.

“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.

On Wednesday, the group wanted to hear from both Cosby and his accuser.

Constand testified last week 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 44-year-old Toronto woman, who spent seven hours on the stand last week, was in the gallery as portions of her testimony were read back to the jury.

The panel also wanted to hear again from Cosby, who didn’t testify at his trial but gave a deposition as part of Constand’s civil suit against him and submitted to a police interview about her accusations.

Pennsylvania detectives spoke to Cosby in his lawyers’ New York City offices a few weeks after Constand went to police in January 2005. Cosby said in the interview that he gave her Benadryl, an over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine, to help her relax. He said she didn’t show any ill effects from the medicine, nor did she object as he groped her.

Constand’s mother wiped away tears at times as the interview was read.

Cosby’s lawyers maintain Constand was a willing sexual partner.

The long days appeared to be wearing on jurors.

“This is an incredible jury that has just acted with incredible dignity and fidelity, … and I don’t have any higher praise,” Judge Stephen O’Neill told the panel before they broke for the night. “You have taken your task so seriously.”

Constand denies 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.

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 successor, 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.

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