Five picked so far for Bill Cosby jury pool

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

PHILADEL­PHIA — The panel that will de­cide Bill Cosby’s fate in his sex as­sault trial be­gan to take shape Mon­day with the se­lec­tion of five ju­rors, three white men and two white women.

The search for 12 ju­rors and six al­ter­nates got off to a brisk start, even though a third of the ini­tial jury pool had an opin­ion about Cosby’s guilt or in­no­cence and an equal num­ber said they or some­one close to them had been sex­u­ally as­saulted. Lawyers are con­tem­plat­ing a per­son’s race, sex, age, oc­cu­pa­tion and in­ter­ests as they weigh their likely sym­pa­thies, ex­perts said.

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

The ac­tor-co­me­dian once known as Amer­ica’s Dad for his 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 calls their en­counter con­sen­sual.

Dozens of other women have made sim­i­lar ac­cu­sa­tions against Cosby, and the judge is al­low­ing only one of them to tes­tify at the June 5 trial in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia. The jury from Pitts­burgh will be se­questered about 480 kilo­me­tres from home.

Cosby, 79, has said he thinks race “could be” a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor in the ac­cu­sa­tions lodged against him.

Lead lawyer Brian McMona­gle said Cosby was “look­ing for­ward” to get­ting the process started. How­ever, Cosby has said he does not ex­pect to tes­tify.

The trial will take place in Nor­ris­town in Mont­gomery County, where Cosby had in­vited An­drea Con­stand to his home in 2004. She said she went seek­ing ca­reer ad­vice as she con­sid­ered leav­ing her job manag­ing the women’s bas­ket­ball team at Tem­ple Univer­sity. She said Cosby gave her wine and pills that put her in a stu­por be­fore mo­lest­ing her on his couch.

Cosby was ar­rested Dec. 30, 2015, days be­fore the 12-year statute of lim­i­ta­tions ex­pired. He has pleaded not guilty and re­mains free on $1-mil­lion bail. He told a talk-show host last week that he hopes to beat back the charges and re­sume his ca­reer.

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