Opening statements in comedian Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial were delayed for several hours Monday while the judge sorted through allegations raised late Friday that a juror told a woman during jury selection that he thought Cosby was guilty. Cosby's lawyers wanted the juror removed from the case.
After questioning all 12 jurors and six alternates behind closed doors, Judge Steven O'Neill ruled the juror could stay, saying all the panelists told him they stuck to their pledge to remain fair and impartial.
Cosby's lawyers also want jurors to hear about the criminal past of an accuser expected to testify at his sexual assault retrial in suburban Philadelphia.
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Cosby's lawyers said in court documents Monday that Chelan Lasha's 2007 guilty plea for making a false report to Arizona law enforcement is vital to assessing her credibility.
Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, declined comment.
Lasha is one of five additional accusers who are being allowed to testify as part of the prosecution's effort to portray the entertainer formerly known as "America's Dad'' as one of Hollywood's biggest predators.
The former model and aspiring actress says she was immobilized and unable to speak as Cosby assaulted her after giving her a pill he described as an antihistamine in 1986.
She was 17 at the time and he was 48.
Cosby's lawyers have said the accusers' memories are tainted at best.
As Cosby arrived for court Monday morning a topless woman jumped in front of him while chanting "Women's Lives Matter." The protester was taken away in handcuffs.
Cosby's first trial last spring ended with jurors unable to reach a unanimous verdict after five days of tense deliberations on charges that the man who made millions of viewers laugh as wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" drugged and molested Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
The 80-year-old comedian, who has said the sexual contact was consensual, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
His retrial is taking place in a radically changed and potentially more hostile environment. The #MeToo movement caught fire four months after the first trial, raising awareness of sexual misconduct as it toppled Harvey Weinstein, Sen. Al Franken, Matt Lauer and other powerful men.
Nearly every potential juror questioned for the case this time knew about #MeToo.
Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said that could help prosecutors overcome the skepticism some jurors had last time about Constand's yearlong wait to report her allegations to the police.
"The #MeToo movement is amplifying what experts have been saying for decades: People are ashamed, they're confused, they can't believe somebody they trust would hurt them, and then they worry that others won't believe them," Houser said.
O'Neill said he'd decide his next step based on what the woman tells him.
After limiting the focus of the first trial, O'Neill has been willing to let both sides push the retrial well beyond Constand's allegations.
This time, O'Neill is letting prosecutors have five additional accusers testify — including model Janice Dickinson — as they attempt to show Cosby made a habit of drugging and violating women. The judge allowed just one other accuser to take the stand last time.
"This one will be harder for the defense," Levenson said. This time, Constand "is not alone, and there is strength in numbers."
In another difference, the judge this time is letting Cosby's legal team call as a witness a former co-worker of Constand's at Temple University who said Constand spoke of setting up a "high-profile person" so she could sue and enjoy a big payday. Constand's lawyer has said the co-worker is lying.
A prosecutor said Cosby paid nearly $3.4 million to the woman he's charged with sexually assaulting at his suburban Philadelphia home.
District Attorney Kevin Steele highlighted the settlement amount during his opening statement at Cosby's retrial Monday.
The amount that Cosby paid to Andrea Constand in a 2006 civil settlement had been confidential, but a judge ruled both sides could discuss it at the trial.
Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau, who won an acquittal in Michael Jackson's 2005 child molestation case, said the jury will learn "just how greedy" Constand was.
In a twist, the judge hinted that he might not allow jurors to hear Cosby's lurid deposition testimony about giving quaaludes to women before sex. He said he would rule on it during the trial. Cosby testified in 2005 and 2006 as part of Constand's lawsuit.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand and Dickinson have done.