Cosby jury instructed as sex assault trial starts in Norristown
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (WTXF/AP) - The big day is here. Monday, Bill Cosby arrived at the Montgomery County Courthouse to go trial in the only criminal case to emerge from the dozens of sexual assault allegations lodged against him.
He showed up at about 8:40am holding a wooden cane, accompanied by with Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played his daughter Rudy on The Cosby Show. Cosby smiled but said nothing when someone asked how he was feeling.
His wife, Camille, was not there.
Cosby's image as a father and a family man helped fuel his extraordinary career in entertainment.
The 79-year-old actor's life and legacy are on the line when his accuser takes the stand for the first time ever, this week.
Prosecutors and the defense were to give their opening statements later in the day.
This is expected to be one of the biggest trials since OJ Simpson’s in 1994-95, except cameras are banned in Pennsylvania courtrooms. Being found guilty of three counts of aggravated sexual assault could get Cosby ten years in prison.
People wanting to see the trial in person have been waiting outside since dinnertime, Sunday. Two even paid others to stand in line for them. Turns out, Fox29’s Steve Keeley reports NBC News with big-pocketed owner Comcast paid two people so their news producers can have prime seats intended for members of the public. They did not say how much they were paid.
Members of the public have been allowed inside the courthouse.
Only 30 members of the public will be seated inside Courtroom A, Montgomery County’s largest. Besides the public, there will be seats for the families and media. Also, the case will be televised in Courtroom C, where there are also only 30 seats.
Keeley reports Phylicia Rashad, who played his Cosby’s wife Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show plus a second time on Cosby, will be there for support. Keshia Knight Pulliam is there. Also, TV son Malcolm-Jamal Warner is expected.
Speaking of Phylicia Rashad and an OJ Simpson connection, OJ Simpson was the best man when Phylicia Rashad married Ahmad Rashād.
On the stand, former Temple University college basketball manager Andrea Constand is expected to testify Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2004. She's only expected to show up on the day she testifies.
Cosby says he had a romantic relationship with her.
Friends now describe Constand as a free spirit who devotes her life to family, her French poodle, and her work treating cancer patients and others as a massage therapist.
Cosby doesn't plan to testify, but his deposition from a decade-old sexual battery lawsuit, unsealed by a judge in 2015 at the request of The Associated Press, showed the once-beloved comedian's dark side. Click here for exchanges between Cosby and Constand lawyer Dolores Troiani from 2005 and 2006, excerpted for brevity and to delete legal squabbling and repetition.
One of the spectators at the first day of Bill Cosby's sex assault trial is attorney Gloria Allred, who says she's hopeful "there will be justice in this case."
Allred represents a woman who worked for Cosby's agent at the William Morris agency. She will be the only other accuser allowed to testify for the prosecution.
Allred's client says she had known Cosby for six years when he invited her to lunch at his bungalow at the Bel Air Hotel in 1996 to discuss her career. She says he gave her wine and a pill and then sexually assaulted her.
"I'm not going to predict what the outcome is," Allred said. "We'll see what the evidence is. But this case is not going to be decided on optics, it's going to be decided on the evidence, and finally, it's Mr. Cosby who's going to have to face that evidence and confront the accusers who are against him."
Cosby's lawyers have questioned why the woman went to the bungalow.
One expert Keeley talked to said there’s little chance of a hung jury. That’s because sequestered juries stifle dissention because those jury members want to get home.
The Montgomery County trial judge hopes to keep the media from dominating the case the way it did O.J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial.
Cameras are banned in Pennsylvania courtrooms. The jury, brought in from Pittsburgh, will be sequestered for the estimated two-week trial.
The judge hopes to control the media frenzy at the Norristown courthouse.