Bill Cosby juror speaks: ‘We had no real new evidence’
The jury in Bill Cosby’s assault trial agreed on many points in the case and accepted his accuser’s testimony as true, but they remained at a hopeless deadlock because of the confusing wording in the texts of the charges, a juror told CNN.
Parts of testimony from key witness Andrea Constand against Cosby were “unbelievable,” the juror said, but her contradicting memory of dates in the case didn’t have a big impact on the jury split.
“It didn’t matter if it was January or March, or what the dates were, the fact that it happened, we accepted that. We accepted all that,” said the juror, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity. “But we could not accept the way the charges were written.”
Still, the juror had questions about her version of events.
“It’s questionable that she asked for help from Mr. Cosby and she shows up wearing a bare midriff and she has incense with her and bath salts with her, and no matter who gave her the bath salts, that’s questionable,” he said.
The juror’s comments come less than a week after a judge declared a mistrial in the case. The comedian, 79, faced three charges of aggravated indecent assault, but jurors could not come to a unanimous verdict on any of the three counts.
Prosecutors said Cosby drugged and assaulted Constand, the former director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, at his Pennsylvania home in January 2004. Defense attorneys argued that the sexual activity was part of a consensual relationship between the two.
Judge Steven O’Neill released the names of jurors to the media earlier this week, but kept the jury deliberations confidential, according to a court document released Wednesday. The document states that a disclosure of anything said or done during deliberations “would have a chilling effect upon future jurors in this case and their ability to deliberate freely.”
Inside the jury room
Amid over 52 hours of testimony, the jury remained deeply divided, with votes largely stuck at 5 to 7 or 7 to 5. At one point, they reached a 10-2 vote to convict, but three jurors then quickly changed their votes, he said.
The jury was bused from Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh, to Montgomery County and sequestered in hotels for the duration of the trial. The panel consisted of four white women, six white men, one black woman and one black man. But the splits were across every demographic, the juror said.
“From my point of view it was right up the middle: Young and old, black and white, men and women,” the juror said.
He suspected that the case against Cosby, which centered on events that allegedly occurred 13 years ago, was brought now because of “politics.”
“We had no real new evidence,” he said. “There was no soiled clothing, no smoking gun, no new evidence.”
The sticking point, the juror said, was the language of the charges.
“They were legally written with a lot of different words than what was said out in the courtroom, and it caused the jurors to keep going back to the judge looking where these words were like “reckless” and “unconscious” and “severely impaired” and “unreasonable doubt.” Now we had out there reasonable doubt, but not unreasonable doubt. What is unreasonable doubt? We spent a lot of time trying to figure these words out that were in these charges, which made them so much more severe than what all the testimony, or I heard closing arguments was. We never heard those words, and that’s where the problem was.”
“‘Reckless’ was one word that we spent a whole day on trying to figure out whether he was reckless going upstairs and getting pills,” the juror said. “Just, you couldn’t convict him on the wording of the charges. And that’s where we argued back and forth. What meant one thing to one person and something to another, and after they slept on it they changed their minds.”
The case against Cosby
Constand initially told police about the alleged assault in January 2005, but the district attorney at the time declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence.
A new district attorney, Kevin Steele, brought charges against Cosby in 2015, months after a judge unsealed Cosby’s deposition in a civil lawsuit in which he admitted to procuring powerful drugs to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
Prosecutors have said they plan to re-try Cosby again within the year. But the juror who spoke to CNN said that would just be a “waste of money” because he thought another jury would have the same problem coming to a conclusion as well.
“If they handle the case the same way they did this, and there’s no new evidence… and it’ll probably be another year or two until they can get this thing up. It’d be a waste of money,” he said.
The juror also detailed the “royal” treatment they received while sequestered for the trial, including a two-week stay in hotel suites, private dinners at nice restaurants, and escorted trips everywhere they went.
Still, the jury experience was exhausting and frustrating, and left multiple people in tears, he said.
To illustrate that point, he said that on the first smoke break in jury deliberations, three jurors went out for a cigarette.
By the final smoke break, after almost a week of tense deliberations, seven people ventured out, including one juror who had been off cigarettes for 21 years.
“That’s tense,” he said.