NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Outside the Montgomery County Courthouse, protesters gathered to shout their support for Andrea Constand, the central accuser in the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, which is entering its first day of a retrial.
The first day of the trial was delayed for Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill to hold a hearing regarding one of the jurors. According to a motion from the defense filed on Friday, the 11th juror allegedly said he’s already decided Cosby is guilty.
I’m here at the first day of Bill Cosby’s retrial, where we’re now delayed because of the defense’s late Friday motion that alleged a seated juror — Juror No. 11 — had told a potential juror his mind was made up that Cosby was guilty.— Gillian McGoldrick (@gill_mcgoldrick) April 9, 2018
But outside, several protesters were vocal about Cosby’s guilt and their support of Constand, who will take the stand once again this month to testify that Cosby allegedly sexually assaulted her in 2004.
About 15 protesters from the National Organization of Women, a feminist grassroots organization, gathered outside the courthouse on Monday morning.
Nicolle Rochelle, a 39-year-old woman who appeared on “The Cosby Show” in the early 1990s was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after jumping over a barricade and running toward Bill Cosby on his way into the Montgomery County Courthouse.
Rochelle was topless and painted with the names of about 50 women on the bare, top-half of her body. She chanted “Women’s lives matter” and other chants about Cosby as Montgomery County Courthouse security detained her immediately.
Rochelle is from New Jersey and appeared in four episodes of “The Cosby Show,” but filmed five, in 1990-92. She has appeared in other television shows like the Law & Order, Chappelle’s Show and in several movies.
Rochelle had been corresponding with Lili Bernard, who is one of Cosby’s more than 60 sexual assault accusers. Bernard, who is attendance at Monday’s trial, did not know Rochelle would be protesting and became emotional when she realized she had known the woman who was arrested outside.
“I was scared to tell you,” Rochelle said on the phone to Bernard with reporters. “I didn’t want to offend you with my style of protest.”
“It’s so mathematically obvious for me that somethings been happening. I wanted to say my piece,” Rochelle added. “My body can be used this way, bodies should be empowered.”
Rochelle said she would not return to the Montgomery County Courthouse for any form of protest following Monday’s demonstration. Rochelle was not affiliated with NOW, said NOW NYC President Sonia Ossorio.
A topless woman protesting sexual assault at the #CosbyTrial ran onto the pavement in front of Cosby before being detained— Alyssa Biederman (@BiedermanAlyssa) April 9, 2018
Ossorio, who is from New York City, said she organized the protest to get justice for Constand and other survivors.
“This is bigger than this one case,” Ossorio said. “Cosby is now the poster boy for how sexual assault is silenced, hidden and not dealt with in our society.”
Ossorio protested at Cosby’s first trial last June, which ended in a deadlocked jury. She said she believes the jury will be more accepting of Constand’s story in the retrial because of the popularity of the Me Too movement.
“Thousands of women have come out and shared their stories,” Ossorio said. “That silence has been broken, that taboo is gone. We hope that this time around the jury will come to the right conclusion.”
Claire McCue, a protester from Brooklyn and a professor of social work in the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, brought her daughter, who is in elementary school, with her to the protest.
Protestors gather outside the courthouse saying “this case is emblematic of cases across the country” pic.twitter.com/UCjBARdMBQ— Alyssa Biederman (@BiedermanAlyssa) April 9, 2018
“This is really about showing her that it’s important to support women and really support their bravery and their courage to tell their story,” McCue said. “We believe this woman who is talking and telling her truth, and I want her to be raised to always have a voice and to know that I believe her when she tells me anything that happens.”
Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly sexually assaulted Constand, a former Temple employee, in his Montgomery County home in 2004.
Opening arguments are set to start Monday, and the trial will likely last a month.
Gillian McGoldrick contributed reporting.
This story has been updated at 1:32 p.m. to include new information.