Jury selection began Monday, and more than half of the 120 potential jurors being questioned in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial claim they have already formed an opinion about his guilt or innocence, according to reports.
- And all but 10 potential jurors say they have some knowledge about the case. To make matters more complicated, every single potential juror save one has heard or seen something about the #MeToo movement, which was created to expose and eliminate sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry and beyond.
- Cosby is being retried after his first trial ended in a hung jury. He is being accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He denies wrongdoing.
- Since his first trial in 2017, the #MeToo movement has gained steam after widespread sexual misconduct was revealed in Hollywood, starting with exposes in The New York Times and The New Yorker against Harvey Weinstein (who also denies wrongdoing), and spreading from there, leading to several powerful men losing their jobs (at least temporarily) in Hollywood and the media, including Kevin Spacey, Bill O’Reilly, Danny Masterson, Ed Westwick, Jeffrey Tambor and many more.
- Experts say the changing mood in the country will impact Cosby’s trial. “We really have had this explosion of awareness since that last trial and it has changed the entire environment,” Richard Gabriel, a jury consultant who has worked on more than 1,000 trials, told McCall. “It is a huge challenge for the defense, but it could also provide an avenue and open up the topic.”
- “There is no question that this is a very difficult time to try someone who has been accused of sexual assault,” defense attorney and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, told McCall. “For some jurors the whole movement will be on trial, because Cosby has been the poster person for this kind of accusation.”
- Plus, Judge Steven O’Neill is allowing five additional accusers to speak out. The five women are: Janice Dickinson, 63, a former model who says Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1982; Janice Baker-Kinny, who claims Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1982; Heidi Thomas, a former actress who claims he assaulted her at his home in 1984; former model Chelan Lasha, who was 17 when she says Cosby assaulted her in 1986; and former model Lise-Lotte Lublin who says Cosby assaulted her in 2015. Cosby denies all wrongdoing.
- These Cosby accusers (and the dozens of others) cannot seek criminal prosecution against him because of statute of limitations laws.