Bill Cosby’s sex assault trial begins

BBC:-The trial of US comedian and actor Bill Cosby for sexual assault has begun in Pennsylvania.

Former university employee Andrea Constand alleges he drugged and molested her in 2004.

Mr Cosby, 79, says he is innocent and the encounter was consensual. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

It is being seen as the biggest US celebrity court case since the murder trial of former American football player OJ Simpson in 1995.

Several of Mr Cosby’s co-stars from the 1984-1992 sitcom The Cosby Show are expected to attend the trial in Norristown, outside Philadelphia. One of them, Keshia Knight Pulliam, accompanied him into court.

More than 100 journalists are expected to cover the trial.

The courthouse, in Norristown, about 20 miles (32km) outside Mr Cosby’s home city of Philadelphia, was swarmed with reporters as the celebrity arrived, emerging slowly from the back seat of a black SUV.

Inside court he reappeared, dressed in a navy suit and a pink pinstriped tie, never turning to address the packed courtroom behind him.

He sat stoically, facing forward and periodically leaning over to confer with one of his lawyers. At one point he spoke out to no-one in particular, as one of his associates had walked away, perhaps revealing his issues with poor sight. But as members of the jury entered, Mr Cosby – like everyone else in the room – turned his attention to their corner.

Judge Steven O’Neill appealed to the courtroom full of reporters to “let the trial play out”, before spending the first hour explaining to jurors their job.

Mr Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000 (£19,500).

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