Ten peo­ple seated on jury in Bill Cosby’s sex as­sault trial

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/Entertainment - BY JOE MAN­DAK AND MARYCLAIRE DALE

The jury that will hear Bill Cosby’s sex­ual as­sault case was fill­ing up quickly Tues­day as lawyers and pros­e­cu­tors worked to se­lect pan­elists who they be­lieved would be favourable to their side.

A black woman in her 30s who said she knows only “ba­sic in­for­ma­tion” about the case and a white man in his 20s who ini­tially ex­pressed a ten­dency to be­lieve po­lice were the lat­est to be added to the panel. The man said he could put that bias aside if in­structed to do so, lead­ing de­fence lawyers to ac­cept him on the panel.

The jury so far con­sists of six men and four women — all but one of them white — in a case that Cosby says may have some racial un­der­tones.

The ac­tor-co­me­dian once known as Amer­ica’s Dad for his beloved por­trayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” is charged with drug­ging and mo­lest­ing a Tem­ple Univer­sity women’s bas­ket­ball team man­ager at his home near Philadel­phia in 2004. He has called the en­counter con­sen­sual.

Dozens of other women have made sim­i­lar ac­cu­sa­tions against Cosby, 79, but Judge Steven T. O’Neill is al­low­ing only one of them to tes­tify at the June 5 trial in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia. The jury from Pitts­burgh will be se­questered nearly 300 miles from home.

Lawyers will con­tinue to ques­tion Pitts­burgh-area res­i­dents this week un­til they find a panel of 12 ju­rors and six al­ter­nates in a case that has at­tracted world­wide pub­lic­ity.

Cosby, in an in­ter­view last week, said he thinks race “could be” a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor in the ac­cu­sa­tions against him. The lawyers are study­ing each per­son’s race, sex, age, oc­cu­pa­tion and in­ter­ests to try to guess their in­her­ent sym­pa­thies, ex­perts said.

Cosby be­came the first black ac­tor to star in a net­work TV show in 1965 but has alien­ated some younger blacks by crit­i­ciz­ing their clothes, mu­sic and life­style.

The other ju­rors picked Tues­day in­clude a man in his 20s and a woman in her 50s who said they had no opin­ions on the case, and a man in his 30s who said he doesn’t read or watch the news.

The ju­rors’ names, ages and oc­cu­pa­tions were be­ing kept pri­vate. Two men se­lected Mon­day said they or some­one close to them had been sex­u­ally as­saulted, but they in­sisted they could judge the case fairly. Some­times that is not so easy, one law pro­fes­sor said.

“It’s one thing to set aside in­tel­lec­tu­ally what you know, but it’s another to set it aside emo­tion­ally,” said Lau­rie Leven­son, a Loy­ola Law School pro­fes­sor.

A third of the ini­tial jury pool ques­tioned Mon­day said they had an opin­ion about Cosby’s guilt or in­no­cence, and an equal num­ber said they or some­one close to them had been sex­u­ally as­saulted.

“You’re look­ing for what peo­ple al­ready be­lieve,” said David Harris, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh School of Law. “Peo­ple don’t take in new in­for­ma­tion and process it. They fil­ter it into what they al­ready know and think.”

The trial will take place in Nor­ris­town in Mont­gomery County, where Cosby had in­vited An­drea Con­stand to his home in 2004. Con­stand said she went seek­ing ca­reer ad­vice. She said Cosby gave her wine and pills that put her in a stu­por be­fore mo­lest­ing her on his couch.

AP PHOTO/GENE J. PUSKAR

Bill Cosby ar­rives for the sec­ond day of jury se­lec­tion in his sex­ual as­sault case at the Al­legheny County Court­house, Tues­day, in Pitts­burgh. The case is set for trial June 5 in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia.

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