Jury selection in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial begins Monday in a courtroom 300 miles from the one where the chosen men and women will decide the comedian’s fate.
Nearly 3,000 residents of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County were sent written questionnaires to determine their eligibility to serve. They will be taken into a courtroom in Pittsburgh, 125 per day, for more in-depth questioning.
Once the 12 jurors and six alternates are selected, they will be sent to Montgomery County, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, for a trial that is expected to last at least two weeks. The judge has ruled that the panel will remain anonymous and will be sequestered for the duration.
Cosby’s lawyers demanded that jury selection moved from Montgomery County to Allegheny County, arguing that a larger and more diverse location would improve the odds of finding jurors who had not been poisoned by the avalanche of negative publicity about their client.
Cosby, 79, who is being tried on charges that he drugged and molested a woman at his Montgomery County home in 2004, is expected to be in the Pittsburgh courtroom while prosecutors and defense attorneys go about assembling a jury that can be impartial in a case that goes far beyond the evidence they will hear in court.
More than 50 women have accused Cosby of misconduct since the scandal erupted two years ago. He has denied all allegations and sued some of the women for defamation.
The trial stems from the accusations of just one woman, Andrea Constand, although a second accuser, known as Prior Alleged Victim No. 6, will be allowed to testify that she also was drugged and abused by Cosby, in 1996.
After a long silence, Cosby has given two interviews in recent weeks — which a lawyer for some of his accusers claimed was an attempt to taint the jury pool. In one of the interviews, on Sirius XM, he said the onslaught of accusations against him were possibly rooted in racism, a charge his lawyers had previously made.
“Could be, could be,” he said. “There are so many tentacles. … ‘Nefarious’ is a great word.”
Cosby also revealed that he does not plan to testify.
“I just don’t want to sit there and have to figure out what I believe is a truthful answer as to whether or not I’m opening a can of something,” he said.