Cosby can call witness to undermine sex assault accuser, judge rules

Jury selection begins for Bill Cosby's second trial
Cosby can call witness to undermine sex assault accuser, judge rules

08 April, 2018

After a showdown over race, the jury picked to decide Bill Cosby's fate in the first big trial of the #MeToo era ended up mirroring the gender and racial makeup of the group that deadlocked past year: seven men and five women - 10 white, two black.

Cosby's lawyers complained that prosecutors had improperly excluded two white men from serving on the jury on the basis of race and age, including one who said he thought numerous women coming forward in the #MeToo movement are "jumping on the bandwagon".

Cosby's lawyers are upset because prosecutors have blocked two white men from serving on the jury, including one who said he thought numerous women coming forward in the #MeToo movement are "jumping on the bandwagon".

During jury selection Monday, all but one potential juror said they'd heard of the #MeToo movement.

Mr Cosby has denied charges he drugged and molested a woman at his home in 2004. This time around the jurors are coming from Montgomery County just outside of Philadelphia, where Cosby has made his home for decades.

Cosby's first trial ended with a hung jury in June.

The county's jury questionnaire asks prospective jurors to self-identity their race to "help the court to monitor the juror selection process to avoid discrimination".

Bliss also accused one member of the prosecution team - whom she did not name - of making "discriminatory and repulsive" comments, which she did not detail or describe in open court. Ms. Bliss made a so-called Batson claim - in which a lawyer objects to a challenge brought by the other side, claiming that it was motivated by race, sex or ethnicity - forcing the judge to suspend jury selection to hear arguments.

Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse before jury selection in his sexual assault retrial April 2, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Castor's lawsuit said Cosby paid Constand "well into the millions of dollars" in a civil settlement.

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

The original retrial was due to begin in November 2017 but was pushed back six months after Cosby hired the new lawyers.

He says the encounter was consensual.

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. He contended that Cosby's lawyers were playing to the media.

District Attorney Kevin Steele responded there was "absolutely no legitimacy" to the defense's challenge, adding that prosecutors had no problem seating the two other black people who've appeared for individual questioning so far.

Cosby was joined by his new attorney Thomas Mesereau, Jr - the lawyer who won an acquittal in Michael Jackson's child molestation case - and his law partner Kathleen Bliss.

In all, prosecutors and the defence removed a total of 91 potential jurors before breaking on Monday. The camera shows the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors.

Constand's lawyer has said Jackson is not telling the truth.

Prosecutors plan to call as many as five additional accusers in a bid to portray Cosby - the former TV star once revered as "America's Dad" for his family sitcom "The Cosby Show" - as a serial predator.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

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