A sequestered jury from an outside county will decide the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, a suburban Philadelphia judge ruled Monday, rejecting a defense request to move the trial itself because of worldwide media reports that the actor’s lawyers say brand him a “serial rapist.”
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill will oversee a June 5 trial over charges that Cosby drugged and molested a former Temple University employee in 2004.
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 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.
“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,” McMonagle said. “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 accused the defense of trying to shop for a jury.