Twelve jurors and six alternates have been selected for Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial that begins next month in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
In a case Cosby’s defense team has said may have racial undertones, two people on the jury — one man and one woman — are black, and 10 — six men and four women — are white. Originally, seven white men had been chosen, though on Wednesday, one was excused for personal reasons and replaced.
“It’s a terrific jury made up of people of all demographics,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said. “We’re past this nonsense about the optics and things.”
Of the 100 potential jurors, 10 were black, and though Cosby’s attorneys complained that the prosecution was trying to keep black people from serving on the jury, The Associated Press reported that the judge ruled they had other, valid reasons to reject two black women earlier in the week.
The AP also noted that the jury is roughly 17 percent black, whereas in Allegheny County, from which the jury came, the black population is just 13 percent of the total, according to Suburban Stats.
Cosby’s attorney, Brian McMonagle, did not stop to speak to reporters after the jury was selected.
Cosby, 79, has been charged with felony aggravated indecent assault and has pleaded not guilty. His accuser, Andrea Constand, has alleged that in 2004, Cosby drugged and molested her at his home in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Constand went to police with her claim in 2005, but the district attorney at the time declined to bring charges against the comedian. Afterward, Constand filed a civil lawsuit, which was settled in 2006. The terms were kept confidential and sealed.
However, nearly a decade later, the AP successfully petitioned the court to unseal a portion of Cosby’s deposition from that case, in which he acknowledged having sexual relations with Constand. According to Cosby, the encounter was consensual.
“I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything,” he said. “And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
The trial will begin on June 5 in Montgomery County, as the defense unsuccessfully petitioned for it to take place elsewhere. However, McMonagle was successful in convincing the judge to allow the jury to come from another area, as he argued it would allow for a more diverse group.
Cosby, who outside the court room Wednesday thanked his fans for their support, told Sirius XM radio host Michael Smerconish earlier this month that he does not expect to testify at the trial.
“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 that I — my lawyers are scrambling,” he said.
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