Jury selection begins in Cosby sex assault trial

The jury is now made up of a middle-aged white woman, a middle-aged white man whose sister is a sexual assault survivor, a younger white man, an elderly white man, and a white woman who appeared to be in her 30s, according to WPVI-TV ABC6.

The tedious task of selecting a jury for entertainer Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial began Monday in Pittsburgh and some local lawyers predicted Cosby's notoriety and juror hardship could be hurdles to getting that jury quickly.

A Temple University basketball team manager's complaint that famous alumnus Bill Cosby drugged and molested her when she went to his home outside Philadelphia for career advice in 2004 will soon go before a Pennsylvania jury.

The 79-year-old Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting a Temple University employee in 2004. Jurors will be about 300 miles (482 kilometers) from home, across the state in suburban Philadelphia.

The full jury will include 12 jurors and six alternates. In a rare interview last week, Cosby suggested racism had played a role in his treatment because he is black.

In the afternoon, the judge and lawyers on both sides called 21 of the potential jurors for closer questioning, one by one, about how aware they were of the case and whether they could remain open- minded.

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.

Thirty-four prospective jurors said Monday that they had already formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Cosby and 25 said the nature of the charges against him would prevent them from being fair and impartial. O'Neill is keeping the jurors' names, ages and occupations private from reporters. More than 80 percent of Monday's jury pool said they were familiar with the case, and two-thirds said it would be hard to spend several weeks sequestered across the state. "This only has to do with one incident back in 2004", Melwert 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.

Of the 100 potential jurors, 86 said they had read or heard about the case before.

"A fair trial doesn't mean that people aren't going to know anything about the defendant", Sughrue said.

The delicate issue of race has percolated beneath the surface of the Bill Cosby jury selection process, present but unspoken, ever since 100 citizens filed into a grand old downtown courthouse here early Monday morning. "And I don't feel her say anything", he said. She says he returned with three blue pills which he said "would take the edge off".

Constand was 30 and dating a woman at the time, while Cosby was 66 and long married.

Defense lawyers are expected to grill Constand on her credibility, including why she did not report the incident until the following year and why she continued to maintain friendly contact with Cosby.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are sexual assault victims unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

Hundreds of potential jurors are being called to a Pittsburgh courthouse this week as the search for panel that will decide the comedian's sex abuse trial gets underway. The judge will bring in more people as needed.

Cosby was arrested on December 30, 2015, days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.

  • Salvatore Jensen