Jury selected for Bill Cosby's sex
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[May 25, 2017]
By Kim Palmer
PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Seven men and five
women, including two black jurors, will determine comedian Bill Cosby's
fate at his upcoming sexual assault trial in Pennsylvania, after claims
from his lawyers that race played a factor in their selection.
Judge Steven O'Neill seated the 12th and final juror on Wednesday, along
with six alternates, after three days of jury selection in Pittsburgh
ahead of what will be the biggest celebrity trial in years.
Cosby's lawyers on Tuesday accused prosecutors of deliberately excluding
black jurors, a charge that O'Neill rejected absent further evidence.
Both sides were permitted to strike a certain number of jurors without
Prosecutors said they removed a black woman on Tuesday because she was a
former police detective once accused of falsifying records, not because
of her race.
Last week, Cosby suggested in a radio interview that he has been treated
worse during the scandal due to racism.
Cosby, 79, is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea
Constand, a former basketball coach at his Temple University alma mater,
at his home in 2004.
Dozens of women have leveled similar accusations against him, though the
Constand case is the only criminal prosecution.
Cosby, whose family-friendly reputation is in tatters, has denied any
After the hearing, Cosby spoke briefly to reporters, thanking law
enforcement as well as "all of the people who have come to see my shows
whenever I appeared at Heinz Hall," a nearby venue where he has done
standup shows. His scheduled performance there in 2015 was canceled amid
a cascade of sexual assault allegations.
The trial is set to begin on June 5 in Norristown, a Philadelphia
suburb. The jurors were drawn from the Pittsburgh area, about 300 miles
(480 km) away, at the defense's request due to extensive pretrial media
coverage. They will be transported to the Norristown area and
sequestered for what is expected to be a two- or three-week trial.
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Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after a
preliminary hearing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. on May 24,
2016. REUTERS/Matt Rourke/Pool/File Photo
At times using a cane, Cosby watched jury selection closely this
week, conferring often with his defense team.
There were occasional moments of levity. One prospective juror said
he would suffer away from his wife's cooking due to his colitis
before joking that his 45-year marriage was longer than some
murderers served in prison, prompting laughs from the courtroom,
"You might be the second-funniest guy in the room," Cosby's lead
lawyer, Brian McMonagle, told his client.
Much of O'Neill's questioning focused on what potential jurors had
heard about the scandal. Under the law, jurors can have prior
knowledge of the case as long as they base their verdict solely on
the evidence at trial.
Most admitted they were familiar with the case, though the jurors
selected all said they could be fair.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)
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