Search for Bill Cosby jury resumes in Pittsburgh

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PITTSBURGH – The search for the 12 people who will decide Bill Cosby’s fate resumed Tuesday, with three more jurors added to the panel — bringing to the total to eight — after a lengthy delay at the start of the day.

Cosby, 79, arrived at the Allegheny Courthouse just before 8 a.m. accompanied by his lawyers and security staff. But the proceedings did not begin until around 11 a.m. as lawyers huddled with Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill for two hours in chambers.

When they emerged, O’Neill offered little explanation, saying only that rulings regarding issues of “fundamental rights” had been made.

Afterward, the jury selection process resumed at a relatively brisk pace. The three selected Tuesday were two young men and a middle-aged woman, all white, as were the jurors picked Monday.

One of the men said he had heard about the case and talked about it with his grandmother, but knew no details.

“I didn’t even know it was in this state,” he said.

The woman said she had heard “just general things” about the case. “I probably heard about it in passing,” she said.

Another young man selected for the jury Tuesday said he had heard last week that the jury selection he was summoned for could be the Cosby case, But he described his prior knowledge of the case as simply hearsay, and told the judge he does not watch television news or read newspapers.

In addition to selecting three jurors Tuesday morning, three were dismissed. One woman had a vacation planned during what would be the trial period, a man said he had a tennis tournament to prepare for and compete in, and another woman had just received a promotion at work that she said she did not want to jeopardize.

The questioning of jurors took place in front of reporters, as O’Neill, lawyers and Cosby sat around a table with one potential juror at a time. Cosby’s defense team is using a jury consultant as they consider which potential jurors to accept.

Individual questioning of some of the 100 people first summoned to court Monday will continue Tuesday afternoon. Additional jurors will be summoned to court Wednesday, O’Neill said.

On Monday, nearly a third of the potential jurors summoned said they had already formed an opinion of Cosby’s guilt or innocence in the sexual assault allegations lodged against him. And 86 of the 100 said they had heard about the case.

The three men and two women selected that day said they knew something about the alleged scandals that have bedeviled Cosby since late 2014 but vowed to put aside what they had heard.

One of the woman acknowledged having heard about the Cosby investigation, but said she did not have a fixed opinion about it.

“I have a life,” she told O’Neill.

The selection process for Cosby’s sexual assault trial, which is scheduled to begin June 5 in Norristown, is one of the most expansive ever undertaken in Allegheny County.

Once complete, the panel will be transported and sequestered in Montgomery County for the trial. The jury is coming from western Pennsylvania because Cosby’s lawyers successfully argued that pretrial publicity made it more difficult finding a fair and impartial jury in Montgomery County. They also sought a jury pool from a more diverse, urban community.

The trial is the only criminal case against Cosby, who has been accused of sexual misconduct in decades past by dozens of women. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele will seek to prove Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand, then the operations director for Temple University’s women’s basketball program, at his Cheltenham Township home in 2004.

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