PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A key phase of comedian Bill Cosby‘s sex assault trial starts Monday when jury selection gets underway in Pittsburgh.
The jury must decide if the 79-year-old actor drugged and molested a college basketball team manager in 2004.
Cosby calls the encounter consensual. He hopes to clear his name and resume his career.
Trial consultant Howard Varinsky says lawyers will be on guard for celebrity worshippers or jurors who may want to serve to write a book.
Cosby does not expect to testify.
The trial is set to start June 5 in suburban Philadelphia and last about two weeks. The jury is being chosen from Pittsburgh because of pretrial publicity. Jurors will be sequestered because of the frenzied media coverage expected.
A dozen jurors and six alternates will be selected.
KYW NewsRadio in Philadelphia’s Jim Melwert says the jury selection is happening in Allegheny County because the defense requested an out of town jury.
Melwert says the lawyers have their work cut out for them:
“[There is a] balance of weeding out the people who will say whatever they have to say to get on the jury because of who it is and how high profile it is, but balancing that with finding people that are actually willing to give up two weeks of their lives and then, the other part of that is trying to find people who can actually be impartial, who don’t want to help ‘America’s Dad’ to get out of criminal charges, or aren’t swayed by the 50 or 60 other women who have come forward with allegations because remember this is only one woman. This only has to do with one incident back in 2004,” Melwert said.
Those selected will have their cell phone and other communications closely monitored during the trial.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)