The hunt is on for a 12th juror for Bill Cosby’s sex assault trial as a new pool of local residents is questioned Wednesday in a Pittsburgh courtroom.
Cosby’s lawyers accused prosecutors this week of trying to keep blacks off the jury after they struck two black women from the panel. However, the judge found their reasons weren’t racially motivated.
The 11 jurors chosen so far include one black. That ratio is close to a 2015 census report that found 13 percent of Allegheny County residents identify as black.
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 new pool of about 93 people appears to include eight black women and three black men. 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 lawyers must also select six alternates before breaking to prepare for the June 5 trial near Philadelphia.
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.
Dale contributed from Philadelphia.
Source: Associated Press