Bill Cosby thanked his fans and supporters on Friday as a jury deliberated sexual assault charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life, tweeting shortly after the panel asked to review his testimony about giving drugs to women he wanted to have sex with.
It was the first Twitter message from Cosby in more than a week and came as jurors spent a fifth day in talks, trying to break an impasse that has raised the possibility of a mistrial for the 79-year-old TV star.
Cosby’s lawyer objected in court Friday to the panel’s repeated requests to review testimony, saying it suggested some jurors were trying to coerce other jurors in an attempt to bring an end to the deadlock.
“They were here!” said his lawyer Brian McMonagle, exasperated.
Judge Steven O’Neill said he saw no evidence of coercion or trouble in the deliberating room after the jurors reported their deadlock on Thursday after 30 hours of deliberations and he instructed them to keep trying for a verdict.
“There’s a misperception that there’s a time limit,” said O’Neill, adding he’d let the jurors work as long as they wanted. Jurors are expected to rehear testimony from accuser Andrea Constand and her mother about phone calls with Cosby on Friday afternoon.
McMonagle argued the court was “being asked to review the entire trial” with the jury’s repeated requests to rehear testimony.
On Friday, the panel listened again to what Cosby had to say about his use of the now-banned party drug quaaludes.
Cosby testified in a 2006 deposition that he got seven prescriptions for the powerful sedative in the 1970s for the purpose of giving them to women before sex.
The testimony is relevant because Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
He has said he gave Benadryl to Constand, 44, before what he insisted was a consensual sexual encounter. Prosecutors have suggested he might have given her quaaludes.
Cosby, who gave the deposition as part of Constand’s lawsuit against him, said in 2006 he never took quaaludes himself, preferring to keep them on hand for social situations.
“When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” Cosby was asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
But he said he no longer had the sedative — a highly popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the U.S. in 1982 — when he met Constand in 2002 at Temple University.
Cosby’s lawyer said he and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.
The jury went back to the deliberating room after having the quaaludes testimony read back to them and listening again to the definition of reasonable doubt, the threshold that prosecutors must cross to win a conviction. After a lunch break, jurors were expected to review testimony from Constand and her mother about phone conversations they had with Cosby after the alleged assault.
The panel has been working for more than 40 hours since getting the case on Monday.
O’Neill has rejected several defence bids for a mistrial, calling out Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt for taking to the courthouse steps and telling reporters that’s how the case should end.
“You have a spokesman who is explaining to the media what a mistrial means — at least what he believes a mistrial is,” O’Neill told Cosby in court Friday.
The 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 Cosby or drop the charges.
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.
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 Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.