11 People Now Seated On Jury In Bill Cosby's Sex Assault Case

May 23, 2017

UPDATED: 7:31 p.m. on May 23, 2017. 

At the end of the day on Tuesday, 11 jurors had been selected to serve on the panel that will hear Bill Cosby's sexual assault case. Ten of the jurors are white; only one is African American. The court will have new pool of 100 potential jurors to question on Wednesday in an effort to find one additional juror and six alternates.

Lawyers will continue to question Pittsburgh-area residents this week until they fill the jury.

It is a case that Cosby believes may have racial overtones. Cosby became the first black actor to star in a network TV show in 1965, but has alienated some younger African Americans by criticizing their clothes, music and lifestyle.

On Tuesday, the prosecution used one of its preemptory strikes to remove an African American woman from the pool; it was the second time the prosecution had used such a strike to remove an African American. The defense objected, saying the two strikes showed a pattern of trying to eliminate minorities from the jury.

The prosecution argued that it eliminated the potential juror because she had been involved in the overtime scandal that ultimately resulted in Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper going to jail. The charges against the woman in that case were dropped. The judge did not allow the objection to stand. 

The lawyers are studying each person's race, sex, age, occupation and interests to try to guess their inherent sympathies, experts said. Cosby, in an interview last week, said he thinks race "could be" a motivating factor in the accusations against him.

The actor-comedian once known as America's Dad for his beloved portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" is charged with drugging and molesting a Temple University women's basketball team manager at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. He has called the encounter consensual.

Dozens of other women have made similar accusations against Cosby, 79, but Judge Steven T. O'Neill is allowing only one of them to testify at the June 5 trial in suburban Philadelphia. The jury from Pittsburgh will be sequestered nearly 300 miles from home.

The jurors' names, ages and occupations were being kept private. Two men selected Monday said they or someone close to them had been sexually assaulted, but they insisted they could judge the case fairly. Sometimes that is not so easy, one law professor said.

"It's one thing to set aside intellectually what you know, but it's another to set it aside emotionally," said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor.

A third of the initial jury pool questioned Monday said they had an opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence, and an equal number said they or someone close to them had been sexually assaulted.

"You're looking for what people already believe," said David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. "People don't take in new information and process it. They filter it into what they already know and think."

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

Constand was 30 and dating a woman at the time, while Cosby was 66 and long married to wife Camille. Cosby in sworn testimony has said he put his hand down Constand's pants, but said she did not protest.

Cosby has said he does not expect to testify.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault unless they come forward, as Constand has done.

Cosby was arrested Dec. 30, 2015, days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $1 million bail.

He told a talk show host last week that he hopes to beat back the charges and resume his career.

"I want to get back to the laughter and the enjoyment of things that I've written and things that I perform on stage."