7 people now seated on jury in Bill Cosby's sex assault case


A day and a half of jury selection has produced eight white jurors so far to hear the sexual-assault case against Bill Cosby next month.

The panel that will decide Bill Cosby's fate in his sex assault trial began to take shape Monday with the selection of five jurors, three white men and two white women. As the pool is whittled down to 12 jurors, each side can use up to seven peremptory challenges to eliminate potential jurors without offering a reason; in selecting six alternates, each side will get three more challenges.

Cosby came to court on the arm of an aide, carrying a box of tissues, and frequently conferred with his three lawyers at the defense table.

The first group of 100 potential jurors summoned this week includes 16 people of colour. Cosby has said he believes the case may have racial overtones. Cosby maintains that their 2004 sexual encounter at his home in Cheltenham was consensual.

Prosecutors plan to call another accuser, whose name has not yet been made public, to testify about her own allegations of sexual assault, as they strive to bolster Constand's account by showing that Cosby engaged in a pattern of criminal behavior.

The two jurors chosen Tuesday morning are a man in his 20s and a woman who looks to be in her 50s. The jury from Pittsburgh will be sequestered almost 300 miles from home. Two men selected Monday said they or someone close to them had been sexually assaulted, but they insisted they could judge the case fairly.

Judge Steven O'Neill, who traveled 300 miles to Pittsburgh from the site of the trial in Montgomery County, revealed little about the new filing, or his resolution of it, saying only that it concerns "fundamental human rights". Cosby, 79, has said he thinks race "could be" a motivating factor in the accusations lodged against him.

The lawyers also will be weighing a potential juror's race, gender, age, occupation and interests as the questioning gets underway.

In making his picks, O'Neill will likely not attempt to find people who have not heard of the case, but simply push for jurors who vow to base their verdict exclusively on the evidence presented at trial.

Lawyers in Bill Cosby's sex assault case this week hope to find a dozen jurors and six alternates willing to be sequestered almost 300 miles (482 kilometers) from home.

The trial will take place in Norristown in Montgomery County, where Cosby had invited Andrea Constand to his home in 2004.

In 2005, Constand went to the police to report that Cosby drugged and sexually molested her at his home the year before, but the district attorney at the time declined to bring charges against the comedian. She said Cosby gave her wine and pills that put her in a stupor before molesting her on his couch.

Trial consultant Howard Varinsky says people often are too eager to serve on juries in celebrity trials. Cosby in sworn testimony has said he put his hand down Constand's trousers, but said she did not protest. He is free on $100,000 bond and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

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