5 jurors picked for Cosby trial, 2 know a sex assault victim

5 jurors picked for Cosby trial, 2 know a sex assault victim

Cosby has maintained his innocence in the face of three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault over a 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia mansion.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File). A crucial phase of entertainer Bill Cosby's sex assault trial starts Monday, May 22, 2017, when lawyers gather in Pittsburgh to p. Bill Cosby arrives for jury selection in his sexual assault case at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Monday, May 22, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Judge O'Neill ruled that some statements from the deposition would be admissible in the trial - including Cosby's admission to giving Quaaludes to a woman with whom he wanted to have sex.

Lawyers in Bill Cosby's sex assault case this week hope to find a dozen jurors and six alternates willing to be sequestered almost 300 miles (482 kilometers) from home.

Cosby has said he thinks race "could be" a motivating factor in the accusations lodged against him.

"But the reality is that's not necessarily consistent with a fair juror, someone who is going to take his or her role very seriously and I would be looking to cull those people out if I was participating in the jury selection process", Hilles added.

In answering questions, 67 said they had a family, financial or other hardship that would make it hard to serve; 34 had formed an opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence; 25 said they would have trouble being fair because of the nature of the charges; and 14 said they had a preconceived notion that would prevent them from deciding the case fairly.

What makes Andrea Constand stand out among dozens of women who have accused the disgraced comedian of sexual assault is that the former manager of the women's basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia is a lesbian.

Because of the odd situation in Montgomery County, jurors in Cosby's trial will spend the length of the trial sequestered in a hotel room 480 kilometres (300 miles) from home.

O'Neill is keeping the jurors' names, ages and occupations private from reporters. The oldest person chosen for the panel was perhaps in his 70s and, like Cosby, uses a cane. The youngest was a young man with a hipster style.

Another question was, "Have you or any member of your family been a victim of sexual assault?" One said she had an opinion about the allegations that she could not set aside. "That's really the question", said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor.

The case against Cosby has attracted worldwide publicity that the judge hopes to shield from jurors during the trial.

Asked if he thought they could get an impartial jury, he said, "We sure hope so". While the prosecutors spoke in hushed tones, Cosby laughed so hard that he had to hold his hand over his mouth. "You're not only taking people out of their workplace, you're taking them away from their families and communities and that presents a whole new level of hardship", Mullaney said.

"No one should make an effort to be on this jury, and no one should make an effort to not be on this jury", Judge Steven T. O'Neill told the group.

Cosby came to court on the arm of an aide, carrying a box of tissues, and frequently conferred with his three lawyers at the defense table.

"He's holding up fine, he's looking forward to it. and we're looking forward to getting a trial", said defense lawyer Brian McMonagle, who thanked the county for handling the jury selection process.

Cosby said he does not expect to testify because of fears he would misspeak.

In total, defense lawyers used four strikes to keep someone off the jury by Monday afternoon, while prosecutors used two. Each side can strike seven people from the jury and three alternates.

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

His wife of 52 years, Camille Cosby, was not with him.

In 2015, a judge unsealed the bombshell document, unleashing a wave of allegations from more than 50 women who came forward with their own accounts of alleged unwanted sexual advances by Cosby.

As the selection process kicked off on Monday, Judge Steven O'Neill asked 100 potential jurors nearly 50 questions.

Cosby, best known as the benevolent father of the smash sitcom "The Cosby Show", has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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