Jury selected for Bill Cosby's sex assault trial

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Seven men and five women, including two black jurors, will determine comedian Bill Cosby's fate at his upcoming sexual assault trial in Pennsylvania, after claims from his lawyers that race played a factor in their selection.

Judge Steven O'Neill seated the 12th and final juror on Wednesday, along with six alternates, after three days of jury selection in Pittsburgh ahead of what will be the biggest celebrity trial in years.

Cosby's lawyers on Tuesday accused prosecutors of deliberately excluding black jurors, a charge that O'Neill rejected absent further evidence. Both sides were permitted to strike a certain number of jurors without explanation.

28 PHOTOS
Bill Cosby's sex assault case
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Bill Cosby's sex assault case
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Comedian Bill Cosby is seen leaving on December 30, 2015 at the District Court in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby has been charged for aggravated indecent assault for a 2004 incident involving Temple University employee Andrea Constand. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
Former Mrs America Lisa Christie, who alleges misconduct by Bill Cosby, holds up photos of her younger self during a news conference at the law office of attorney Gloria Allred in Los Angeles, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives for a Habeas Corpus hearing on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Comedian Bill Cosby touches the metal detector after bumping into it as he arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing related to assault charges, May 24, 2016, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter/POOL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: (EDITORS NOTE: Best quality available) In this handout image provided by the Elkins Park, Montgomery County District Attorney's office, William H. Cosby poses for a mugshot photo during his arraignment December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh and charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released.after posting $100,000, the required 10 percent of bail. (Photo by Montgomery County District Attorney's Office via Getty Images)
A woman holding a sign that reads "Rape is No Joke" protests as people walk into the Centre In The Square venue where Bill Cosby is performing in Kitchener, January 7, 2015. Bill Cosby, the subject of more than a dozen sex abuse allegations over the past three months, will go ahead with three Canadian shows this week, coming as more women levelled accusations against the comedian. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: CRIME LAW ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Attorney Gloria Allred (L) speaks accompanied by Actress Lili Bernard (R) announcing allegations against comedian Bill Cosby in New York, May 1, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby's home is seen after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby waves to cheering fans while departing a hearing on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Linda Kirkpatrick, one of three women who allege they were sexually assaulted by comedian Bill Cosby, listens to a question after speaking at a news conference in Los Angeles, California, January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby is led from the Cheltenham Police Station after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby's home is seen after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Bill Cosby leaves his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court in Cheltenham, Pa., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, after county prosecutors filed sex assault charges against him. (Tom Gralish/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Comedian Bill Cosby (C) arrives on December 30, 2015 at the District Court in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby has been charged for aggravated indecent assault for a 2004 incident involving Temple University employee Andrea Constand. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
US comedian Bill Cosby arrives December 30, 2015 to the Court House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania to face charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was arraigned over an incident that took place in 2004 -- the first criminal charge filed against the actor after dozens of women claimed abuse.AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
US comedian Bill Cosby December 30, 2015 at the Court House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania to face arraignment on charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was arraigned over an incident that took place in 2004 -- the first criminal charge filed against the actor after dozens of women claimed abuse.AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele speaks during a press conference announcing the indictment of Bill Cosby for alleged sexual assault on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. At left is Cheltenham Township police Chief John Norris, and at right is Samuel J. Gallen, chief of Montgomery County Detectives. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 30: Attorney Gloria Allred speaks during a press conference in response to the felony sexual assault charges levied against comedian Bill Cosby stemming from an alleged January 2004 assault of Temple University employee Andrea Constand at Cosby's Pennsylvania home December 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Allred represents 29 alleged sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby's home is seen after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after a pre-trial hearing on sexual assault charges in Norristown, Pennsylvania May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Attorney Gloria Allred holds a copy of a criminal complaint by Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, during a news conference in Los Angeles, California to comment on the aggravated indecent assault charges filed against comedian Bill Cosby by the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania District Attorney December 30, 2015. Cosby has been charged with felony sexual assault over an incident in 2004 at his Philadelphia-area mansion, a Pennsylvania prosecutor said on Wednesday, in the first criminal case involving the comedian after years of mounting accusations. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby is helped through the metal detector as he arrives for the first day of his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/David Maialetti/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Bill Cosby is helped by an aide as he returns into Courtroom A in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Bryant/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NORRISTOWN, PA - JUNE 5: Bill Cosby arrives with actress Keshia Knight Pulliam (R) at the Montgomery County Courthouse before the opening of the sexual assault trial June 5, 2017 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 79 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - JUNE 5: Brian McMonagle, an attorney for Bill Cosby, arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse before the opening of the sexual assault trial June 5, 2017 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 79 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 23: Bill Cosby is escorted to the Allegheny County Courthouse before the second day of jury selection in his sexual assault case on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Rush - Pool/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - JUNE 5: Attorney Gloria Allred arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse before the opening of the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby June 5, 2017 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 79 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
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Prosecutors said they removed a black woman on Tuesday because she was a former police detective once accused of falsifying records, not because of her race.

Last week, Cosby suggested in a radio interview that he has been treated worse during the scandal due to racism.

Cosby, 79, is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former basketball coach at his Temple University alma mater, at his home in 2004.

Dozens of women have leveled similar accusations against him, though the Constand case is the only criminal prosecution.

Cosby, whose family-friendly reputation is in tatters, has denied any wrongdoing.

After the hearing, Cosby spoke briefly to reporters, thanking law enforcement as well as "all of the people who have come to see my shows whenever I appeared at Heinz Hall," a nearby venue where he has done standup shows. His scheduled performance there in 2015 was canceled amid a cascade of sexual assault allegations.

26 PHOTOS
List of accusers against Bill Cosby
See Gallery
List of accusers against Bill Cosby

Andrea Constand

Date of alleged assault: January 2004
Date of accusation: March 2005

(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Former actress Eden Tirl

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Colleen Hughes

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Lise-Lotte Lublin

Date of alleged assault: 1989
Date of accusation: February 12, 2015 

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Linda Brown

Date of alleged assault: 1969
Date of accusation: February 12, 2015 i. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Katherine McKee

Date of alleged incident: 1970s
Date of accusation: Dec. 22, 2014

(NY Daily News)

"Lisa"

Date of alleged incident: 1988
Date of accusation: Dec. 19, 2014

(Dr.Phil)

Beverly Johnson

Date of alleged incident: mid-’80s
Date of accusation: Dec. 11, 2014

(Getty)

Jewel Allison

Date of Alleged Assault – late 1980s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 24, 2014

(Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Linda Joy Traitz

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 22, 2014

(Facebook)

Angela Leslie

Date of Alleged Assault – 1992
Date of Accusation– Nov. 21, 2014

(Facebook)

Victoria Valentino

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970
Date of Accusation – Nov. 21, 2014

(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Louisa Moritz

Date of Alleged Assault – 1971
Date of Accusation – Nov. 20, 2014

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Michelle Hurd

Date of Alleged Assault – mid 1990s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 20, 2014

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Barbara Bowman

Date of Alleged Assault – 1986
Date of Accusation – Nov. 13, 2014

(Getty)

Marcella Tate

Date of Alleged Assault – 1975
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Joan Tarshis

Date of Alleged Assault – 1969
Date of Accusation – 2014

(Matt Moyer For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Margie Shapiro 

Date of Alleged Assault – Early 1970's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Lynn Neal

Date of Alleged Assault – 1980's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Sammie Mays

Date of Alleged Assault – Mid 1980's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Linda Kirkpatrick

Date of Alleged Assault – 1981
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Janice Baker Kinney

Date of Alleged Assault – 1982
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Kacey

Date of Alleged Assault – Early 1990's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Autumn Burns

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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The trial is set to begin on June 5 in Norristown, a Philadelphia suburb. The jurors were drawn from the Pittsburgh area, about 300 miles away, at the defense's request due to extensive pretrial media coverage. They will be transported to the Norristown area and sequestered for what is expected to be a two- or three-week trial.

At times using a cane, Cosby watched jury selection closely this week, conferring often with his defense team.

There were occasional moments of levity. One prospective juror said he would suffer away from his wife's cooking due to his colitis before joking that his 45-year marriage was longer than some murderers served in prison, prompting laughs from the courtroom, including Cosby.

"You might be the second-funniest guy in the room," Cosby's lead lawyer, Brian McMonagle, told his client.

Much of O'Neill's questioning focused on what potential jurors had heard about the scandal. Under the law, jurors can have prior knowledge of the case as long as they base their verdict solely on the evidence at trial.

Most admitted they were familiar with the case, though the jurors selected all said they could be fair.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)

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