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08 April 2018, 01:29 | Sheila Mcguire
Jury selection begins for Bill Cosby's second trial
An accusation of "racial animus" from Bill Cosby's defense team against the prosecution halted the third day of jury selection for the comedian's sexual assault trial for almost three hours.
Cosby's lawyers complained that prosecutors had improperly excluded two white men from serving on the jury on the basis of race and age, including one who said he thought numerous women coming forward in the #MeToo movement are "jumping on the bandwagon".
Eleven jurors have been picked so far, including nine whites and two blacks. The defense team has already blocked several women from serving on the jury, according to ABC News, while the prosecution excluded two men, including one who had disparaging things to say about the #MeToo movement.
They agreed on six other jurors, bringing the two-day total to seven as jury selection headed into a third day Wednesday.
Cosby faces three felonies stemming from allegations by a former Temple University women's basketball administrator who says Cosby, a Temple alum and longtime trustee, gave her pills that made her woozy, then assaulted her at his home in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2004.
The comedian denies the claims against him and his defense argued at his first trial that he and Constand had consensual relations.That trial, which took place a year ago, ended in a hung jury.
The county's jury questionnaire asks prospective jurors to self-identity their race to "help the court to monitor the juror selection process to avoid discrimination". "For them to now make the claim that the strike of an individual establishes some type of pattern is, I think unfortunately, not being done for this court but for the media behind us".
Last time, jury selection played out in Pittsburgh, due to defense concerns that a local jury in the Philadelphia suburbs may have been too influenced by media coverage.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill also said defense lawyers could introduce evidence that Cosby made a payout to accuser Andrea Constand to settle the lawsuit she filed against him in 2005.
No major rulings were expected on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) after the trial judge opened Tuesday's (Wednesday NZT) session by issuing decisions favourable to a defence team that is trying to cast Cosby as the victim of a shakedown scheme involving false accusations of sexual assault. The camera shows the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors who are being questioned as a group.
He says the encounter was consensual.
The first alternate picked Thursday, a middle-aged black man, said he could set aside what he's heard about the Cosby case but hesitated and couldn't guarantee it when pressed by the judge.
Last year's trial was mostly a he-said-she-said.
Ms Constand's lawyer has said Ms Jackson is not telling the truth.
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