Five picked so far for Bill Cosby jury pool
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.