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3 white men, 2 white woman seated for Cosby jury

03 June 2017

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The search for 12 jurors and six alternates for Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial is off to a brisk start even though a third of the initial jury pool had an opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence and an equal number said they or someone close to them had been sexually assaulted.

Of the five jurors selected on Monday, three are men and two women. The lawyers are studying each person's race, sex, age, occupation and interests to try to guess their inherent sympathies, experts said. Cosby, in an interview last week, said he thinks race "could be" a motivating factor in the accusations against him. Thirty-four said they had already formed an opinion.

While Cosby has pleaded not guilty, he has admitted in a deposition to having sexual relations with Ms Constand that year, when she served as director of the women's basketball team at his alma mater, Temple University. He has called the encounter consensual. The jury from Pittsburgh will be sequestered almost 300 miles from home. Their names, ages and occupations are being kept private.

In answering questions, 67 said they had a family, financial or other hardship that would make it hard to serve; 34 had formed an opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence; 25 said they would have trouble being fair because of the nature of the charges; and 14 said they had a preconceived notion that would prevent them from deciding the case fairly. "This only has to do with one incident back in 2004", Melwert said.

"It's one thing to set aside intellectually what you know, but it's another to set it aside emotionally", said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor.

Cosby's attorneys requested a jury from outside of Montgomery County pointing to pre-trial publicity - including a political advertisement by District Attorney Kevin Steele when he was running for the office in 2015.

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Cosby, who entered the courtroom on the arm of an aide, using a cane and carrying a box of tissues, conferred with his three lawyers at the defense table.

"He's holding up fine, he's looking forward to it. and we're looking forward to getting a trial", said defence lawyer Brian McMonagle.

Cosby has said he does not expect to testify.

But Montgomery County is now hosting a heated district attorney race involving former prosecutor Bruce Castor, who refused to bring charges against Cosby in 2004 and District Attorney Kevin Steele, who reopened the case in 2015.

She said she was "in and out" of awareness, "frozen" and "paralysed" throughout the alleged assault.

"I want people to understand my work as an artist and a performer", he said.

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Dozens of other women have accused him of similar conduct.

Jury selection begins Monday in a criminal trial against comedian Bill Cosby on felony charges of sexual assault - and just a few hours into the process, it's evident that seating a jury is going to be a challenge.

Court officials say the judge has taken the bench in Pittsburgh as lawyers prepare to question the first batch of 125 potential jurors. They are all white, as are the three selected Tuesday. The judge has not yet ruled on anyone's qualification to serve, but was expected to question people individually throughout the afternoon.

Cosby was arrested December 30, 2015, days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.

But he has pleaded not guilty and is now free on a $1m bail.

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

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