Bill Cosby said he channeled Nelson Mandela when prosecutors offered him a deal just before his trial for aggravated indecent assault started nearly two weeks ago.
The iconic comedian told the National Newspaper Publishers Association he recalled visiting Mandela years ago after the late civil rights champion had been released from his Robben Island cell in South Africa.
Cosby said he met Mandela at the cell, sat there and thought about what he had went through, an experience he called back on when presented with a plea bargain in his own case.
While a prosecution spokesman denied a deal had been offered, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt confirmed that just before the trial began on June 5, prosecutors approached Cosby with a deal but the “I Spy” legend promptly declined it.
“I’m not guilty,” Cosby said in explaining why he nixed the offer.
“We still hold to the truth that Mr. Cosby is innocent and this court should declare a mistrial,” Wyatt said Friday as jurors entered their 49th hour of deliberations.
The panel, which consist of seven men and five women — including an African-American man and woman — told Judge Steven O’Neill they were deadlocked, but the judge ordered them to continue deliberating.
Cosby’s lead attorney Brian McMonagle has repeatedly asked O’Neill to declare a mistrial but the judge has steadfastly refused, even angrily lashing out at the lawyer in front of media members.
A source connected with the defense said the plea arrangement offered the superstar included probation, registering as a sex offender and wearing a tracking device on his ankle while serving his sentence on house arrest.
Cosby, 79, has been charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault involving former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. The allegations revolve around an incident that occurred in 2004 at Cosby’s home near Philadelphia.
With a guilty verdict potentially landing Cosby in prison for as many as 30 years, many are left wondering why he didn’t accept the plea deal.
However, Cosby has appeared more upbeat than even his handlers and attorneys. He has been seen smiling and even playful, greeting a growing number of fans outside the Norristown, Pennsylvania, courthouse with the “Hey hey hey” catchphrase from his iconic “Fat Albert” cartoon.
The comedian even expressed appreciation Friday to his fans via Twitter, and in a private moment in a conference room at the courthouse, Cosby also expressed gratitude to the Black Press for being fair in its coverage of the trial.