Cosby trial: defense accuses attorneys of omitting black people from jury

Only one black person among first 11 jurors chosen for Bill Cosbys sexual assault trial marks systematic exclusion of African Americans, says lawyer

With simply one black person seated among the first 11 jurors chosen for Bill Cosbys sexual assault trial, defense lawyers are crying foul and accusing attorneys of trying to systematically keep black people off the jury.

The lawyers return to tribunal on Wednesday in Pittsburgh to pick a 12 th juror and six alternates.

For now, Judge Steven ONeill has rejected the race bias argument.

Prosecutors said race was not a factor in their decision to strike two black women from the members of the commission the coming week. They said one was a former Pittsburgh police detective who sued the city after she was arrested in a public scandal.

ONeill pledged to revisit the issue if the defense lawyer Brian McMonagle, who had accused attorneys of a systematic exclusion of African Americans, presented statistical evidence to back that up.

The 100 people summoned to the Allegheny County courthouse for juror consideration so far have included 16 people of color. A new jury pond is likely to be summoned on Wednesday.

The jurors selected on Tuesday included a black girl who said she knew only basic information about the suit, a young white man who initially carried a propensity to believe police and two people who said they did not read or watch the news.

The jury now consists of seven men and four girls all but one of them white in a case that Cosby has said may have racial undertones.

The actor-comedian once known as Americas Dad for his beloved portrayal of Dr Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show is charged with drugging and molesting a Temple University womens basketball team director at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. He has called the encounter consensual.

Dozens of other women have made similar accusations against Cosby, 79, but ONeill is allowing only one of them to testify at the 5 June trial in suburban Philadelphia. The jury from Pittsburgh will be sequestered virtually 300 miles from home.

Cosby, in an interview last week, said race could be a motivating factor in the accusations against him.

Race plays a role in every trial, but it shouldnt eclipse … the evidence, the Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said. This occurrence is frankly more about gender, celebrity, how women are treated[ and] Bill Cosbys credibility. But race may take a more focused perspective because the defense has[ raised it] recently.

The trial will take place in Norristown in Montgomery County, where Cosby had invited Andrea Constand to his home in 2004. Constand said she went attempting career advice. She said Cosby dedicated her wine and pills that put her in a stupor before molesting her on his couch.

Constand was 30 and dating a woman at the time, while Cosby was 66 and long married to his wife, Camille. Cosby in sworn testimony has said he put his hand down Constands gasps, but said she did not protest.

Cosby has said he does not expect to testify.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault unless they come forward, as Constand has done.

Cosby was arrested on 30 December 2015, days before the 12 -year statute of limitations expired. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on$ 1m bail.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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