First juror selected in Cosby’s retrial

More than 120 potential jurors were summoned to the Montgomery County Courthouse on Monday.

Former university trustee Bill Cosby walks into the Montgomery County Courthouse on Monday. He is on trial for three counts of aggravated indecent assault. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The first juror was selected for former university trustee Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial. A pool of 120 people were questioned on Monday about whether they can impartially and fairly decide this case at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

The first juror is a white man in his mid-20s. He claims he did not have previous knowledge of Cosby’s sexual assault case and has not formed an opinion of Cosby’s guilt or innocence, but has heard of the Me Too movement and recent allegations of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry.

The defense made it clear in pretrial hearings earlier this month that the recent increased attention on sexual misconduct and assault allegations against well-known men will result in a biased jury pool for Cosby.

On Monday, all but one potential juror said they had knowledge of the Me Too movement.  

“Prejudice from what goes on outside the courtroom with Me Too and the media barrage…that has nothing to with Mr. Cosby at all,” said Cosby’s defense attorney Becky James at a pretrial hearing on March 6.

More than half of the 120 potential jurors said they have already made up their minds about Cosby’s guilt or innocence and have previous knowledge of this sexual assault case.

One potential juror who was questioned individually said that she could not set aside previous knowledge of this case and be a fair juror if selected.

Twenty-eight jurors told the court that the nature of the charges against Cosby, which accuse him of drugging and sexual assaulting central accuser Andrea Constand in 2004, would prevent them from being a fair and impartial juror.

More than 25 of the potential jurors will be called back and questioned on Tuesday and could potentially decide the fate of Cosby, who is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Earlier this month, O’Neill ruled that he will allow five of Cosby’s additional accusers to testify at the upcoming trial. At Cosby’s first trial in June 2017, O’Neill only allowed one woman to testify, which was Kelley Johnson. The prosecution indicated that they will not call Johnson at the upcoming trial, the Inquirer reported.

Janice Dickinson is expected to be one of the five women who will testify against Cosby. She alleges Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her decades ago. She is now suing Cosby for defamation in California.

Jurors from Cosby’s first trial, who were selected from Allegheny County, were unable to reach a unanimous verdict last summer after deliberating for more than 52 hours in six days, which resulted in a mistrial.  

Constand is a former Temple employee who alleges Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Montgomery County home in 2004. Cosby was a university trustee as the time of the alleged assault.

Arguments in Cosby’s sexual assault retrial are expected to begin April 9. Jurors will be sequestered for the trial, which O’Neill estimated will last a month.

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