NORRISTOWN (CBSMiami/AP) — The judge in Bill Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges says that a jury chosen from suburban Philadelphia will be sequestered in a local hotel.
Judge Steven O’Neill told lawyers Thursday of the plan for the jury being chosen from Montgomery County.
The jury from the first trial was chosen from about 300 miles away in Allegheny County.
O’Neill also rejected demands Thursday from the comedian’s defense lawyers that he step aside because his wife is a social worker and advocate for assault victims.
The judge said at a pretrial hearing that he’s “not biased or prejudiced” by his wife’s work and that the assertion that he shares the same views as his wife or has let his rulings be influenced by her profession “is faulty, plain and simple.”
Cosby’s lawyers made a last-ditch effort in court Thursday to postpone the comedian’s sexual assault retrial after losing their bid to overturn O’Neill’s ruling allowing up to five additional accusers to testify.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday, but Cosby’s lawyers could appeal that decision to the state Supreme Court.
The 80-year-old Cosby faces charges that he drugged and molested former Temple University athletics administrator Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
As Cosby’s lawyers are battling with O’Neill, who also oversaw his first trial, they also are counting on him to make critical rulings to bolster their defense that Constand is a money-grubbing liar.
They argued Thursday for permission to call a witness who says Constand spoke of framing a celebrity and to let jurors know how much Cosby paid her in a 2006 civil settlement. The pretrial hearing will continue Friday.
Lawyer Kathleen Bliss argued the settlement amount bookends witness Marguerite Jackson’s assertion that Constand talked about cashing in on false allegations before she went to police with allegations that Cosby drugged and molested her in 2004.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen Fedden said that they doubt the discussion happened and Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, has said that Jackson is “not telling the truth.”
O’Neill blocked Jackson from testifying at the first trial because he said her testimony would be hearsay and prosecutors want him to do the same for the retrial.
Prosecutors say the theory that Constand wanted to set up Cosby is undermined by the comedian’s testimony in a 2005 deposition that she only visited his home when invited and that he gave her pills without her asking for them.
Prosecutors also argued the settlement is irrelevant to the criminal case, but that if it is allowed in, jurors should also hear about negotiations that led to the settlement.
Assistant District Attorney Stewart Ryan contends Cosby’s negotiators initially asked to be released from any criminal liability and tried to bar Constand from cooperating with law enforcement. He says that amounts to obstruction of justice.
Thursday’s hearing started with arguments over the judge’s wife, Deborah O’Neill, a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania who coordinates a team that cares and advocates for student sexual assault victims.
Cosby’s lawyers emphasized their concern over a $100 donation made in Deborah O’Neill’s name to an organization that gave money to a group planning protests outside Cosby’s retrial. O’Neill said the donation was made 13 months ago by the university department where his wife works and that it wasn’t a personal donation using her own money or their joint assets.
“How are my wife’s independent views of an independent woman connected to me?” O’Neill said. “She’s an independent woman and has the right to be involved in anything that she believes in.”
O’Neill said Thursday that Cosby’s old lawyers raised the prospect of having him step aside in December 2016, but never followed through. He added that he could’ve rejected the recusal request simply because Cosby’s lawyers waited too long to ask.
He said they were aware of Deborah O’Neill’s work as far back as December 2016, but that they waited until getting several adverse rulings just before retrial to raise it as an issue.
O’Neill spoke glowingly about his wife and said it was difficult to have her accomplishments “trivialized” in a legal motion. He said Cosby’s lawyers had presented an antiquated view of marriage where spouses must agree on everything.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)