PITTSBURGH – Five jurors have been selected on Monday in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case that starts June 5 in suburban Philadelphia. Three white men were chosen for the jury along with two white females, Fox News has learned.
Cosby's lawyer said the disgraced comedian is "holding up fine" and "looking forward to getting a trial."
The jury selection comes 13 years after a Temple University basketball team manager went to famous alumnus Cosby's nearby home for career advice and filed a complaint that Cosby drugged and molested her that night in 2004. Cosby says the contact was consensual.
The case has attracted worldwide publicity the judge hopes to shield from jurors.
Out of the 100 jurors who were present in court Monday morning, 86 people said they had knowlege of the case. A total of 34 stated they have formed an opinion about the case, and 14 said they have other preconceived notions. Meanwhile, 25 admitted the nature of the charges could keep them from being impartial, and 35 said they or a family member had been victims of sexual assault.
Additionally, 67 of the potential jurors said serving would be an extraordinary hardship, as the case is expected to take two or more weeks and the selected jurors will be required to sequestered nearly 300 miles from home. Four people cited other reasons they shouldn't serve.
On Tuesday, the court will summon a new pool of 50 potential jurors. Fox News also learned 42 from today's pool must return tomorrow morning for further questions.
Lawyers hope to have the panel in place by the end of the week. Court officials said Judge Steven O'Neill had taken the bench.
"You want to see if they're a celebrity-conscious person — if they read celebrity stuff, if they worship celebrity," trial consultant Howard Varinsky said. "Prosecutors have to be very worried about fans."
The lawyers also will be weighing a potential juror's race, gender, age, occupation and interests as the questioning gets underway. They hope to tease out whether they relate more to the beloved actor who brought the world Fat Albert, Dr. Cliff Huxtable and bemused quips about family and fatherhood, or a woman who was rebuffed when she first filed a police complaint, only to relive the case a decade later after Cosby's testimony from her lawsuit became public and dozens of other accusers came forward to support her.
"In a normal case, juries are all banging the door to get out, bringing up every hardship in the world," Varinsky said. "But on this case, you're going to see people that may lie to get on, and people who convince themselves that they can be fair, but they can't.
"Whatever side you're on, you have to really weed through this," he said. "I'm looking (as a consultant) for every single micro-expression, each body movement."
Jurors will be dismissed "for cause" if they admit to strong views about the case or persuade the judge they have family, health or financial situations that prevent them from serving. After that, each side can strike seven people during jury selection and three more when they choose alternates.
Accuser Andrea Constand went to police in January 2005 to report that Cosby had sexually assaulted her a year earlier. She had left Temple the previous March and was back home in the Toronto area, setting aside a life in basketball to retrain as a massage therapist.
Then-District Attorney Bruce Castor declined to press charges. Constand then sued the comedian, negotiating a settlement after he gave sworn testimony about a string of sexual liaisons with young women. Cosby admitted giving some of them pills or alcohol beforehand.
New prosecutors read that testimony and reopened the case in mid-2015. Cosby was arrested on Dec. 30, 2015, days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $1 million bail.
He told a radio show host this week that he hopes to beat back the charges and resume his career.
"I want people to understand my work as an artist and a performer," he said. "I want to get back to the laughter and the enjoyment of things that I've written and things that I perform on stage."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.