Belfast Telegraph

Judge dismisses racial bias protest in Bill Cosby jury selection

The comedian's defence lawyers have been given the chance to argue the claim if they can provide hard evidence.

A complaint of jury selection racial bias ahead of Bill Cosby's criminal trial has been dismissed.

The embattled comedian is preparing to stand trial next month (Jun17) to fight accusations of felony indecent assault, amid allegations he drugged and sexually assaulted former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania home in 2004.

During jury selection on Monday (22May17), only one black person was appointed among the first 11 people chosen to serve on the panel, prompting defence lawyer Brian McMonagle to accuse prosecutors of "a systematic exclusion of African-Americans", reports The Associated Press.

Prosecutors denied the allegations, and Judge Steven O'Neill shut down the complaint before Wednesday's (24May17) proceedings could continue.

However, the judge agreed to hear McMonagle's argument again if he can provide strong evidence to support his claim.

A total of 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected to hear the case, which is set to begin trial on 5 June (17).

The latest developments emerge days after Cosby, 79, spoke out about the 50-plus women who have stacked up historic assault allegations against him in the last few years, insisting some are only attacking him because of the colour of his skin.

The former The Cosby Show star has long maintained the sex he had with Constand was consensual, and although he was not charged with any crimes at the time, he did settle a civil suit with her out of court in 2006.

The criminal case was reopened in 2015, after his previously-sealed testimony from the civil proceedings was made public. In the deposition, Cosby confessed to obtaining Quaaludes, a strong sedative, to hand out to females he wanted to have sex with, although he insisted he didn't use them when he is alleged to have assaulted Constand.

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