HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) – When Bill Cosby heads to trial this year on indecent sexual assault charges, a jury from Allegheny County will determine his guilt, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled.
Home to the city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny is about 300 miles west of the site of Cosby’s trial in Norristown.
Cosby, 79, is being prosecuted in Montgomery County because his accuser, Andrea Constand, claims to have been assaulted at the comedian’s home there in Cheltenham.
His attorneys claimed that Cosby could not get a fair trial in the suburban area, but Judge Steven O’Neill agreed only to look elsewhere for jurors rather than conduct the trial elsewhere.
Montgomery County is just a half-hour drive from Philadelphia but is far less diverse, with a nearly 80 percent white population, compared with Philadelphia’s white population of just over 35 percent, according to census data.
Both Allegheny and Philadelphia counties have more than 1 million residents, but Allegheny’s black population is about 13 percent, while Montgomery’s is about 8 percent. In Philadelphia, the black-alone population is 41 percent.
Pennsylvania Supreme Chief Justice Thomas Saylor signed the one-paragraph jury order issued late Monday. The jury will be brought across the state for the tentative June 5, 2017, date of trial.
Of the dozens of women who have accused Cosby of drugging and assaulting them, Constand is the only one whose claims are not exhausted under the statute of limitations.
Constand met Cosby about a decade ago while working at Temple University where the Cosby was a trustee.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele is leading the prosecution, and Cosby’s lead defense attorney is Brian McMonagle.
“The bias is in the water in this courthouse,” McMonagale said of the Montgomery County.