Judge in Bill Cosby retrial gives defence two big victories

Bill Cosby centre arrives for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Monday

O'Neill has granted them permission to call five other Cosby accusers over defense objections.

The former TV star once revered as "America's Dad" for his family sitcom "The Cosby Show" wore a dark suit with a trench coat draped across his legs and a thin wooden cane in his hand as O'Neill questioned potential jurors.

They were picked Tuesday, the second day of jury selection. Judge O'Neill had deemed Jackson's testimony as hearsay in the first trial, but has now ruled to allow it.

Constand met Cosby through her job at Temple University, where Cosby was a trustee, and claims that he drugged and raped her at his Cheltenham home one night after she sought career guidance from the much older entertainer.

A judge ruled on Tuesday that an ex-Temple University employee, Marguerite Jackson, who claims fellow former Temple employee Andrea Constand, 44, told her she meant to fabricate sex assault claims as a way to make money, will be able testify at trial.

O'Neill of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, ruled Tuesday in pre-trial motions that Cosby's defense can call to the stand Marguerite Jackson, who claims Andrea Constand once said she could lie about being sexually assaulted by a celebrity, then collect a lot of money.

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The judge also has to decide whether the jury can hear details about the 2006 financial settlement Cosby reached with Constand. Cosby's lawyers are upset because prosecutors have blocked two white men from serving on the jury, including one who said he thought numerous women coming forward in the #MeToo movement are "jumping on the bandwagon".

Two more jurors were picked in rapid succession as the session got underway, bringing the total number seated to three.

Three-quarters of them were sent home as they said they already had formed an opinion about Cosby's guilt or innocence. The judge issued one caveat to the ruling, saying he could revisit his decision after Constand's testimony. O'Neill announced last week that the jury will be sequestered, as they were in the first trial past year.

He was an outlier among the 120 suburban Philadelphia residents summoned as potential jurors in the case.

Cosby's lawyers had also used two strikes, both to block white women from serving. He says the sexual encounter with Andrea Constand was consensual. Another group of 120 potential jurors also was also being brought in, in case they do not make the cut.

Cosby's lawyers objected to having reporters in the courtroom because they feared it could hurt their ability to find a fair and impartial jury.

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She said during trial those pills made her feel "frozen" and pass out.

Montgomery County President Judge Thomas DelRicci said Tuesday he would schedule a hearing on the news media's legal challenge.

All but one of the people in the initial group of potential jurors said they were aware of the #MeToo movement or the allegations it spurred against powerful entertainment figures.

But Jackson said in a signed affidavit that Constand's allegations came as no surprise to her based on a conversation they had years earlier. The lone person who claimed ignorance on Me Too was not invited back.

The Cosby jury will consist of 12 jurors and six alternates, all of whom will be sequestered in a local hotel as the first panel was.

The newspaper does not normally identify victims of sex crimes without their consent but is using Constand's name because she has identified herself publicly.

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