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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Bill Cosby retrial struggles to find jurors who haven't already made up their minds

Veteran lawyers and jury consultants say #MeToo movement could cut both ways for Cosby.

Bill Cosby Corey Perrine via Getty Corey Perrine via Getty

ONE JUROR HAS been picked and key rulings are on the way in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial.

Judge Steven O’Neill said he will reveal his decisions on lingering issues in the case before jury selection resumes today in suburban Philadelphia.

O’Neill is expected to rule if Cosby’s lawyers can call a witness who says accuser Andrea Constand talked about framing a celebrity before she went to police in 2005 with allegations the comedian drugged and molested her.

Marguerite Jackson’s testimony could be crucial to Cosby’s defence; O’Neill also could boost the defence’s case if he rules that jurors can hear how much Cosby paid Constand in a 2006 civil settlement.

Bill Cosby Corey Perrine via Getty Corey Perrine via Getty

Just one juror was seated as jury selection began yesterday. Things moved at a far slower pace than on the opening day of Cosby’s first trial last spring, when five jurors were selected.

The young man picked as a retrial juror said he did not know anything about Cosby’s case.

He was an outlier among the 120 suburban Philadelphia residents summoned as potential jurors in the case.

Three-quarters of them were sent home for cause – the majority because they said they already have formed an opinion about Cosby’s guilt or innocence.

Bill Cosby Corey Perrine via Getty Corey Perrine via Getty

That leaves just 28 people invited back for individual questioning today as prosecutors and Cosby’s lawyers work to fill 17 remaining jury spots. Another group of 120 potential jurors also is being brought in, in case they do not make the cut.

O’Neill said the jury will be sequestered at a hotel and warned that the retrial could last about a month.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and sexually molested Constand, a Temple University women’s basketball administrator, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He says the encounter was consensual.

The former TV star once revered as America’s Dad for his family sitcom The Cosby Show wore a dark suit with a trench coat draped across his legs and a thin wooden cane in his hand as O’Neill questioned potential jurors.

Picking a jury has proven particularly tough after the #MeToo movement started toppling famous men in rapid succession months after Cosby’s first trial ended in a deadlock.

All but one of the people in the initial group of potential jurors said they were aware of the #MeToo movement or the allegations it spurred against powerful entertainment figures. The lone person who claimed ignorance on #MeToo was not invited back.

Veteran lawyers and jury consultants say #MeToo could cut both ways for Cosby, making some potential jurors more hostile and others more likely to think men are being unfairly accused.

In all, prosecutors and the defence removed a total of 91 potential jurors before breaking yesterday.

But six other people who echoed the lone selected juror in saying they had no knowledge of Cosby’s case are being brought in for individual questioning.

For the retrial, O’Neill has ruled jurors can hear from five additional accusers, giving prosecutors a chance to portray Cosby as a serial predator.

Comments have been closed due to ongoing legal proceedings.

Read: Bill Cosby jury have announced that they are deadlocked

Read: Bill Cosby sexual assault retrial set for 6 November

Associated Foreign Press