PHILADELPHIA — Half of the new jury pool being questioned Wednesday in Bill Cosby’s sex assault case said they’ve formed an opinion on his guilt or innocence, while one knows Cosby or his family.
Eleven jurors have been chosen this week for the case starting June 5 in suburban Philadelphia. Those who have opinions aren’t necessarily disqualified if they convince the judge they can put that aside and focus on the evidence.
Cosby’s lawyers have complained about prosecutors striking two black women since only one black has made it onto the panel.
The judge is not yet convinced that shows a pattern of race bias. Six of the 15 blacks dismissed from the jury pool summoned Monday were tossed based on their initial questionnaires. Others were sent home after being questioned individually about various problems or conflicts. Several had relatives who were crime victims, one had an ill spouse and one man said he had no one to watch his dog.
The lawyers, appearing weary by the end of the day Tuesday, followed the judge’s lead Tuesday and let him go.
The hunt was on Wednesday for a 12th juror and six alternates. A new pool of about 93 people was brought in and surveyed through a show of hands.
One-third said they were more likely to believe police testimony, nearly one-fourth had been convicted of a crime, and nearly one-fifth said someone close to them had been sexually assaulted.
The one who knows the Cosby family did not immediately provide any further details.
About 12 percent of the new group appeared to be black, just under the 13 percent reported in a 2015 census report on Allegheny County.
The black actor-comedian once known as America’s Dad for his beloved portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” is charged with drugging and molesting a Temple University women’s basketball team manager 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 the judge is allowing only one of them to testify. The jury from Pittsburgh will be sequestered nearly 300 miles from home.
Cosby, in an interview last week, said race could be a motivating factor in the accusations against him.
The 48-question juror survey asks if the potential jurors have an opinion about Cosby’s guilt but not if they were fans of his comedy routines, top-ranked TV shows or family values speeches.
The jurors selected earlier this week included a black woman who said she knew only “basic information” about the case, a young white man who initially expressed a tendency to believe police and two people who said they don’t read or watch the news.
The trial will take place in Montgomery County, where Cosby had invited Andrea Constand to his home in 2004. Constand said she went seeking career advice. She said Cosby gave 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 wife Camille. Cosby in sworn testimony has said he put his hand down Constand’s pants, 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 Dec. 30, 2015, days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $1 million bail.