The scene outside the courthouse where 12 jurors are determining Bill Cosby’s fate at his sexual assault trial devolved on Thursday into a circus-like atmosphere, complete with dramatic confrontations, marching drummers and a bubble machine.
Cosby, 79, was inside the courthouse waiting for the jury verdict on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, then a college administrator, in 2004.
The jury told Judge Steven O’Neill earlier in the day it was deadlocked after more than 30 hours of deliberations but he ordered them to continue.
On the steps of the courthouse, plenty of people had already made up their minds.
“It went from being a joke to all of this calamity,” said a man holding a sign that read “Free Mr. Cosby” who would only give his first name, Garvey. “Everything I heard points to him being innocent.”
The once-beloved comedian has been accused of sexual abuse by approximately 60 women, but only Constand’s allegations have led to criminal charges. Cosby has denied all of the claims.
Several of the women, who have been awaiting a verdict all week, got into arguments with a number of Cosby supporters who appeared at the trial for the first time on Thursday.
With television cameras capturing every moment, Lili Bernard, who has accused Cosby of raping her while she was a guest star on his 1980s hit TV series “The Cosby Show,” read a Bible passage aloud to Cosby defenders before tearfully hugging a friend.
Jewel Allison, a former model who says Cosby assaulted her in the 1980s, faced off against a woman holding a sign that read “Bill Cosby is innocent” in capital letters. Allison held the woman’s hand as she tried to persuade her to change her mind and told the woman she would have had the same opinion if she had never been alone in a room with Cosby.
Minutes later, the sound of drumming filled the air as a woman carrying a sign reading “Perseverance To All Survivors” pranced down the sidewalk firing a bubble machine. Two men wearing dark plastic masks and carrying drums marched behind her.
Earlier in the week, the woman had driven a U-Haul truck around the courthouse with a drawing of a middle finger with Cosby’s name on it plastered to the outside.
As the rhythmic drumming continued, Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy bunny from the 1960s who says Cosby assaulted her decades ago, danced to the music on the courthouse steps.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Benkoe)