The criminal case against comedian Bill Cosby, accused of drugging and molesting a former Temple University employee in 2004, has been the focus of legal maneuvers in the past week, with at least one ruling going the defense’s way.
But in a decision today, the AP reports that the defense team lost its bid to have the case moved from the Philadelphia suburbs. Instead, a jury from outside the area will be brought in to decide the case.
Cosby’s trial is scheduled to begin June 5.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill rejected a request by the defense to move the trial because of media reports branding Cosby as a “serial rapist,” the AP reports. O’Neill said the jury will remain sequestered during the trial.
“O’Neill’s ruling came after lawyers for the 79-year-old TV star argued that his trial should be moved to Philadelphia or the Pittsburgh area,” the AP reports. “The larger, more diverse population would make it easier to find unbiased jurors, lawyer Brian McMonagle argued, but even then, he said, there was no guarantee that Cosby could get a fair hearing.”
McMonagle is quoted saying: “Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the message that has been promoted, in insidious fashion, is that Bill Cosby is guilty, and that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. I do not believe that there’s a place anywhere in this country now where he can receive a fair trial. Not here, not anywhere. I hope I’m wrong.”
Prosecutors have argued that the defense is trying to shop for a jury.
“In a court filing, District Attorney Kevin Steele called the pretrial publicity argument ‘a red herring.’ He said Cosby couldn’t expect to find a jury anywhere that is ‘oblivious’ to the dozens of sex assault accusations lodged against him by Andrea Constand and other accusers,” the AP reports.
Steele wrote in the filing: “He’s not entitled to a jury that is ignorant of the facts surrounding his case. The publicity that necessarily follows the rich and famous cannot insulate them from prosecution.”