LOS ANGELES - Jurors have been unable to reach a verdict in the trial of comedian Bill Cosby, who is charged with three counts of sexual assault, in a courtroom near Philadelphia.
The seven men and five women of the jury said they were deadlocked Thursday, and Judge Steven O’Neill ordered them to continue deliberations, rejecting calls by the defense for a mistrial.
By late Friday, they had not reached a verdict. A conviction could send the 79-year-old entertainer to prison for decades.
At issue is whether Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand, who was operations director of the Temple University women’s basketball team when the alleged assault took place in 2004.
Watch: Jurors Remain Deadlocked in Bill Cosby Trial
Cosby denies any wrongdoing and says the two had consensual sexual relations.
Dozens of accusations
About 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual violations, resulting in civil lawsuits, including one by Constand that was settled in 2006 with an undisclosed cash payment.
Only the Constand case led to criminal prosecution because the other alleged incidents happened too long ago, outside Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations and the generally shorter statutes of limitations in other states.
A number of states have recently extended or eliminated their limits, in part because of the allegations surrounding Cosby.
The once-respected entertainer has faced canceled projects from NBC and Netflix, and his reputation is in tatters, said Carolyn Finger, senior vice president at Variety Business Intelligence.
“You have someone who has held themselves out as a mentor and a pillar of society and has gotten all these accolades and is at the very highest levels of their industry,” the analyst said, “and to have these accusations come up — and not just one or two, but scores of accusations” has been devastating to Cosby.
Divided jurors have put a series of questions to the judge, including on Cosby’s statements from earlier court depositions. Cosby said he gave three tablets to Constand, but he said they were Benadryl allergy tablets that induce drowsiness.
In other cases, he has admitted to providing Quaaludes, a sedative, to women with whom he wanted to have sex. He has denied, however, drugging any women against their will.
Jurors seek advice
On Friday, the jurors asked for a legal definition of reasonable doubt, the standard that they must exceed to reach a verdict of guilty on each of the three counts.
They must unanimously agree on each count to convict on the count. Each carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison.
The entertainer is at the center of a tragedy, said one-time admirer Dillon Magrann-Wells, a comic screenwriter in Hollywood.
Cosby is “someone with the most sterling career, someone who has had such a huge impact on his community and on comedy in general,” but someone who has fallen from grace dramatically, Magrann-Wells said.
Whatever the outcome of this trial, Cosby’s star is badly tarnished, and he faces a civil lawsuit from an accuser in California later this month.
The woman, Judy Huth, claims that Cosby raped her in 1974, when she was 15 years old.