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 on what the TV star said happened inside his suburban Philadelphia home and how he characterized his relationship with the accuser.
Jurors reviewed more than a dozen passages from a deposition Cosby gave more than a decade ago, hearing 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.
Jackson said Constand told her she had been drugged and molested. She said the Temple basketball director immediately recanted, then said she could make a false accusation, win a lawsuit and use the money to go to school and open a business.
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.
“You do not try your case on the courthouse steps,” Troiani said. “The statement was not accurate. It is not correct, and I can see only one purpose for him coming here to do that, and that is to defame our client, and that is the goal of Mr. Cosby and his publicist.”
The jury, sequestered for the duration of the trial and unaware of the back-and-forth outside, was keenly focused on what Cosby said about the pills he gave to Constand before their encounter.
For the second time in their deliberations, jurors also asked 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 defence 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. Cosby, his lawyer said, never ran from talking to police, for better or worse.
“He never shuts up,” lawyer Brian McMonagle said of his client in closing arguments Monday.
Nonetheless, the comedian whose storytelling artistry fueled a $400 million fortune went quiet when he had the chance to take the stand, unwilling to risk cross-examination about his 60 other accusers if he denied ever drugging or molesting anyone.
Constand testified for more than seven hours last week, denying there was any romance between them and telling 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.
The defence had tried repeatedly since Cosby’s Dec. 30, 2015, arrest to have the case shut down, saying the charges were filed too late and the accusers were after money. They also complained that prosecutors improperly struck blacks from the jury chosen in Pittsburgh.
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.