Cosby, 79, stands accused of allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, home in January 2004. The prosecutor in Montgomery County, in suburban Philadelphia, filed three counts of aggravated indecent assault against the entertainer in December 2015.
Hoping to widen the jury pool beyond those who may have heard or have an opinion about the case, the jury selection was moved across the state to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.
A larger-than-normal jury pool — 2,934 people — have been summoned for consideration, reports The New York Times. The 12 jurors and six alternates who ultimately are chosen will be bused 300 miles back to Montgomery County and sequestered for the duration of the trial, which is scheduled to start June 5.
With a recently published statement from his daughter Evin invoking “the prejudice and racism he endured getting to where he got” — and Cosby’s embrace of her defense in a recent radio interview — the trial “promises to be the most closely watched legal spectacle since O.J. Simpson’s 1995 prosecution,” reports the Post-Gazette, beneath the headline, “Divided City Awaits Cosby in Pittsburgh.”
Cosby has said the encounter with Constand was consensual. He has repeatedly denied her accusations and similar accusations made by more than 50 other women.
At stake, then, are questions about who will fill his jury — specifically the balance of men and women and the number of African-Americans.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Cosby said during his recent radio interview that he does not plan to take the stand in his defense. But he did not hold back his feelings when describing the two years since he was charged, using the words “attack” and “nefarious.”
“When you look at the power structure and you look at individuals, there are some people who can very well be motivated by whether or not they’re going to work or whether or not they might be able to get back at someone,” he said.
WATCH: Inside the Case Against Bill Cosby: Will He Go to Prison?
Jurors chosen for the trial will not hear about the civil lawsuit that Cosby settled with Constand in 2006, according to a pre-trial ruling by Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill, who will preside over the case.
But they will be allowed to hear testimony Cosby gave in a decade-old deposition in which he said he obtained seven prescriptions for Quaaludes in the 1970s, with the intent of giving them to women with whom he wanted to have sex. He said he no longer had the drug when the alleged incident with Constand occurred.
Once jurors are chosen and the trial begins, it is expected to last about two weeks.