PHILADELPHIA (AP) — After two years of silence amid an onslaught of sexual assault allegations, comedian Bill Cosby is sending carefully targeted messages about racial bias across the media landscape ahead of his June 5 trial in suburban Philadelphia.
Cosby, 79, spoke to a black news outlet last month for a story that meandered from his self-described blindness to the racist history of the United States to his dream of returning to the stage.
His daughters sent audio statements to select radio stations last week in which Ensa Cosby said her father had been “lynched” in the media.
The messaging continued this week in the Pittsburgh courtroom where jury selection was conducted. After prosecutors struck two black women from the panel, defense lawyer Brian McMonagle attacked what he called the other side’s “systemic exclusion of African-Americans.”
Two blacks were among the 12 people chosen for the jury, and two more were among the six people chosen as alternates. They will be sequestered 300 miles from home in suburban Philadelphia for the trial. Cosby’s lawyers had asked for an outside jury because the case was a 2015 campaign issue in Montgomery County, where Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting a Temple University employee in 2004.
Lawyers on both sides said late Wednesday they were satisfied with the jury’s makeup, given that it exceeds the 13 percent black population in Allegheny County, where the jurors were chosen.
“The Cosby team (now) cares about how the public and maybe even how the black community feels about this whole situation, which is striking given his diatribes against the most vulnerable people in that community. But we’ve seen stranger things in these big trials,” said James Braxton Peterson, director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University. “It’s ironic how he makes that pivot, given that he’s demonized poor black people in the past.”
Cosby broke barriers as the first black actor to star in a network show, “I Spy,” in the 1960s and created…