US actor Bill Cosby arrives in court for jury selection in sexual assault trial

It is a moment of truth for Bill Cosby as jury selection for his sex assault trial begins.VIDEO: REUTERS
 District Attorney Kevin Steele (centre) at the Allegheny County Courthouse for the jury selection of US comedian Bill Cosby's trail, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on May 22, 2017.
District Attorney Kevin Steele (centre) at the Allegheny County Courthouse for the jury selection of US comedian Bill Cosby's trail, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on May 22, 2017.

PITTSBURGH (AFP) - Disgraced US megastar Bill Cosby arrived at court on Monday (May 22) for the start of jury selection in his sexual assault trial, in which he is accused of drugging and assaulting a woman at his home 13 years ago.

The pioneering black comedian walked into the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh dressed in a pale yellow shirt, colourful patterned tie and a tan checkered jacket.

Jury selection is to take place 480 kilometres from the Pennsylvania town where the trial is scheduled to begin June 5, after Cosby's lawyers argued it would be easier to find an unbiased jury in the city.

The names of the men and women selected to serve will be kept anonymous and they will be sequestered during the trial in Norristown, 32km north-west of Philadelphia.

The 79-year-old actor faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Cosby revealed in a radio interview broadcast last week that he does not expect to testify, and suggested racism could have played a role in the scandal.

 
 

He is accused of plying Andrea Constand with pills and wine, and then assaulting her at his Philadelphia home in 2004. At the time Constand worked for the Temple University basketball team.

Cosby admits to giving a pill to Constand, but insists their relations with consensual.

The trial will mark a brutal fall from grace for the once treasured father figure who smashed through racial barriers and delighted audiences with his gentle, self-deprecating humour.

His most famous role was as Cliff Huxtable, the affable father of an upper middle class black family in New York, in The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992.

More than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby of being a sexual predator stretching back four decades. They have made remarkably similar allegations that he fed them sedatives and alcohol that made them unable to resist his advances.

The vast majority of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute, making the Pennsylvania case the only criminal charge brought against Cosby so far.