The jury in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial got back to work Saturday as deliberations on the fate of the man once known as America's Dad pushed into Father's Day weekend.
Bill Cosby's lawyer has repeatedly demanded a mistrial as the talks wore on without a verdict, but the judge said there was no precedent to send the jury home.
"I have no authority to do this," Judge Steven O'Neill said in the 52nd hour of deliberations Friday night. "I'm sorry it's causing everyone frustration."
Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle fired back that jurors might be under the assumption they have to deliberate until "the cows come home."
Cosby, 79, is accused of drugging and molesting a Temple University employee in 2004 at his home near Philadelphia. Cosby's lawyers have said he and Andrea Constand were lovers sharing a consensual sexual encounter.
With no decision in sight, the TV star thanked his fans and supporters — first in a tweet, then in brief comments as he left the courthouse late Friday.
"I just want to wish all of the fathers a happy Father's Day," Cosby said. "And I want to thank the jury for their long days. Their honest work, individually. I also want to thank the supporters who have been here. And, please, to the supporters, stay calm. Do not argue with people. Just keep up the great support. Thank you."
A conviction could send Cosby to prison for the rest of his life. The case has already helped replace the public's image of him as kindly, paternal Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," the top-rated 1980s and '90s sitcom, with that of an accused serial predator. Dozens of women have come forward to say he drugged and assaulted them, though Costand's encounter with Cosby was the only one to result in criminal charges.
The epic deliberation has produced some testy exchanges in court.
The judge challenged McMonagle's requests to end the trial without a verdict, saying that for all he knows, the jury might be working toward an acquittal.
"You don't know why they were deadlocked. Everyone is assuming one way or another," said O'Neill.
As jurors left for the night, O'Neill praised their "hard work, dedication and fidelity to your oath." The jury, from the Pittsburgh area, has been sequestered for two weeks about 300 miles from home.
McMonagle objected in court 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.
The judge said he saw no evidence of coercion or trouble in the deliberating room after the jurors reported their impasse on Thursday and he instructed them to keep trying for a verdict.
"There's a misperception that there's a time limit," he said.
Jurors got the case on Monday. They must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit.
If they can't break the deadlock, O'Neill could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. Then, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry Cosby or drop the 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.