Jurors deliberate Bill Cosby’s fate for second day

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – A Pennsylvania jury of seven men and five women will resume deliberations for a second day on Thursday to decide whether to convict comedian and actor Bill Cosby of sexual assault.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby leaves court after a day of deliberations in his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Prosecutors have portrayed the entertainer as a serial predator who hid behind his kindly television persona, while defense lawyers say he has been the victim of women fabricating stories about him in pursuit of wealth and fame.

Cosby, 80, the once-beloved black comedian and TV dad who won over white America on “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s, is on trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, 45, at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.

Cosby has denied the charges, saying any sexual contact was consensual.

The jury, sequestered since the trial began on April 9, was due to begin day two of deliberations at 9 a.m. on Thursday, after a six-hour session on Wednesday, when jurors asked to rehear parts of the case. A previous jury failed to reach a verdict last June, leading to a second trial.

After receiving instructions from Judge Steven O’Neill on Wednesday morning, the jury raised questions three times.

Two hours into deliberations, the jury asked for the legal definition of “consent” in a sexual assault case.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby leaves court after a day of deliberations in his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

O’Neill said the question could not be answered.

Another question concerned a jury request to see two documents prepared by Jackson outlining her accusations against Constand, which O’Neill denied, and the content of several stipulations about evidence, which he granted.

A third question asked for the rereading of the Cosby deposition and Jackson’s testimony.

Jackson, who was barred from testifying in the first trial, told the court Constand once told her “it would be easy” to fabricate an accusation of sexual assault against a celebrity to make money.

Cosby has remained free on bail. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the three counts, although sentencing guidelines call for the terms to be served concurrently.

The first trial ended in mistrial last June, just before a flood of sexual assault and harassment accusations against rich and powerful men gave rise to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Reporting by David DeKok; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Michael Perry

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