Sunday, 26 May, 2019

Cosby arrives for 1st day of jury selection

Bill Cosby with new legal team Tom Mesereau left and Kathleen Bliss right leave the Montgomery County Courthouse on Aug. 22 in Norristown Pennsylvania Prosecutors want Cosby jury to hear testimony on quaaludes
Adrian Cunningham | 03 April, 2018, 03:14

The majority of potential jurors summoned for the first trial said they had heard of the case, and almost half reported that they already had a fixed opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence.

Cosby's defense team sought the judge's recusal because his wife, Dr. Deborah O'Neill, is a psychotherapist at Penn who coordinates a group that helps sexual assault victims.

Prosecutors and the defense began picking a jury for Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial in a #MeToo era that could make the task more hard.

O'Neill says individual questioning of potential jurors will take place directly in front of reporters.

Among the key issues that need to be sorted out before opening statements is a defence request to allow evidence from a woman who says Ms Constand spoke of framing a celebrity before she went to police with allegations Cosby drugged and molested her.

Cosby, 80, is charged with drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, 44, at his home near Philadelphia between December 30, 2003, and January 20, 2004. He has pleaded not guilty.

The new case opened on 2 April with jury selection at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Jurors in last June's trial, which ended with a hung jury following almost 60 hours of deliberation, were previously selected from the Pittsburgh area after Cosby's old defense team argued he couldn't receive a fair shake in Montgomery County.

The first and only juror to be selected on Monday indicated he had no knowledge of the case and would not let what he has heard about #MeToo influence his ability to be impartial.

The jury questioning revealed some potential witnesses, including Dawn Staley, the SC women's basketball coach who was Ms Constand's boss at Temple; Temple board President Patrick O'Connor, who represented Cosby in Ms Constand's 2005-06 lawsuit against him; and Judge Risa Vetri Ferman, the former district attorney who charged Cosby just before she left office in 2015. He says the sexual encounter with Andrea Constand was consensual.

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In the first trial, jury selection was moved to Pittsburgh over defense fears that widespread publicity could make it hard to find unbiased jurors in the Philadelphia area.

The 80-year-old Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting a former Temple University athletics administrator at his home in 2004.

The retrial comes after the original jury failed to reach a unanimous decision over the charges of aggravated indecent assault after more than 50 hours of deliberation.

Jury selection is set to get underway in Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial in a cultural landscape changed by the #MeToo movement.

One juror said the panel was split 10-2 in favor of conviction, while another said the group was more evenly divided.

Experts say the movement against sexual misconduct that toppled a string of famous men could cut both ways for the comedian.

Bill Cosby, the American comedian, who fell from grace with many other talented men in the entertainment industry in 2017, is facing a retrial in the charges brought against him by a Canadian woman.

The process of picking 12 jurors begins Monday in suburban Philadelphia.