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'Legally blind' Bill Cosby arrives for jury selection in sex assault trial

Cosby is accused of plying Andrea Constand with pills and wine and then assaulting her at his home in 2004.

Bill Cosby Jury Selection Gene J Puskar / PA Images Gene J Puskar / PA Images / PA Images

JURY SELECTION BEGAN today for Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial, with the disgraced US comedian accused of drugging and assaulting a woman at his home 13 years ago.

The actor arrived at the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh dressed in a pale yellow shirt, colourful patterned tie and a tan checkered jacket to observe the start of the proceedings, expected to last all week.

Jury selection is taking place 300 miles from the Pennsylvania town where the trial is scheduled to begin, after Cosby’s lawyers argued it would be easier to find an unbiased panel in the city.

The names of the men and women selected to serve will be kept anonymous and they will be sequestered during the trial in Norristown, 30km northwest of Philadelphia.

More than 50 women have publicly accused the comedian-turned-pariah of being a sexual predator stretching back four decades.

They have made remarkably similar allegations that he fed them sedatives and alcohol that made them unable to prevent his advances.

The vast majority of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute, making the Pennsylvania case the only criminal charge brought against Cosby so far.

In a radio interview broadcast last week, Cosby said he did not expect to testify, and suggested racism could have played a role in the scandal.

News: Bill Crosby Trial SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Legally blind, according to his lawyers, he arrived at court today wearing dark glasses and walking with a cane past a throng of reporters, photographers and cameras.

The comedian is accused of plying Andrea Constand with pills and wine, and then assaulting her at his Philadelphia home in 2004. At the time Constand worked for the Temple University basketball team.

New evidence came to light

Cosby admits to giving a pill to Constand but insists their relations were consensual.

The case was initially settled by a civil suit in 2006 but prosecutors reopened it claiming that new evidence had come to light. Cosby’s legal team question Constand’s credibility, saying she has provided shifting evidence against Cosby.

Bill Cosby Leaving Court After Spanish Fly Hearing Ricky Fitchett / PA Images Ricky Fitchett / PA Images / PA Images

The avalanche of allegations have seen celebrity pals and millions more malign the actor, who attained his greatest fame for his role as Cliff Huxtable, the affable father of an upper middle class black family in the hit 1980s US sitcom ’The Cosby Show’.

It was one of the most popular TV series of all time and jettisoned the actor into a life of fame and millions, following a humble childhood during which he was raised by a maid and a US Navy cook.

The criminal trial is scheduled to start 5 June. The 79-year-old actor faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Comments are closed as charges have been made.

© – AFP, 2017

Read: Bill Cosby says racism ‘could be’ behind sexual assault allegations

Read: Prosecutor says 13 women should be allowed to testify against Bill Cosby