The sexual assault trial of iconic entertainer Bill Cosby began Monday morning in a Montgomery County courtroom, NBCNews reports. He was accompanied by his former The Cosby Show actress Keshia Knight Pulliam.
“It’s the first time Mr. Cosby will have to face his accusers in criminal court,” Gloria Allred, attorney for several of Cosby’s alleged sexual assault victims, said.
Former friend Andrea Constand accuses the 79-year-old of drugging and molesting her at his home in 2004. Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault. If he’s found guilty, the fallen star, once nicknamed “America’s dad,” could spend up to 10 years behind bars.
Constand is one of at least 40 women who have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, according to The Los Angeles Times. Although dozens of women allege that Cosby molested them, Constand’s complaint is the first criminal case against him.
In 2005, Constand, a former Temple University employee, told the police that Cosby sexually assaulted her a year earlier at his mansion. Constand said Cosby invited her to dinner and gave her pills, which made her unconscious.
Cosby has pleaded not guilty, maintaining that the encounter was consensual. He’s not expected to testify at the trial, which will last about two weeks.
Race surfaced as an issue during jury selection, The Washington Post reported. Cosby’s defense team accused the district attorney’s office of trying to exclude African-Americans from the jury, which the prosecutor denied.
Constand’s ethnicity is Greek and Italian, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The 12-person jury, which included two African Americans, is comprised of seven men and five women.