The Montgomery County Courthouse is about to be the focus of worldwide attention as the sexual assault trial of actor and comedian Bill Cosby gets under way on Monday.
Reporters from media outlets around the globe are beginning to descend upon the area and county officials have made sure the courthouse looks its best while the highest-profile criminal trial to ever take place in these halls of justice unfolds.
Last week, county public property employees were putting fresh coats of paint on jury rooms, mowing lawns and cleaning courtrooms, all in preparation for the worldwide attention. Kudos to those county employees who I observed going the extra mile to make sure the courthouse facility shines. If a bonus is out of the question, then at the very least they deserve some praise from their bosses and county leaders.
|Cosby Trial Will Unfold in Courtroom A/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
During a hearing last week, Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who will preside over the Cosby trial, said it was “a case of extraordinary pretrial publicity.” I think the amount of pretrial publicity is about to be overshadowed by the amount of publicity the trial is going to attract during the next two weeks.
This amount of attention could be a boon for local restaurants and hotels. Who is going to provide coffee, eats and beds for all those journalists?
While the trial will be taking place inside, expect a lot of things to be going on outside the courthouse too. A podium is scheduled to be set up in a courtyard in the event the lawyers in the case speak during breaks or at the end of the day’s testimony.
|Montco Sheriff's Deputies Install Crowd Control Fences/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
Additionally, an expert from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) will be on site beginning Monday.
According to officials, Kristen Houser, NSVRC chief public affairs officer, will be available to provide an expert perspective and important context on sexual violence, including victim behavior and trauma, offender dynamics, and the use of drugs and alcohol to perpetrate sexual violence, to members of the media covering the trial.
In light of potential rainy weather this week, county officials have given the go-ahead to media outlets to erect canopies during the Cosby trial. However, those canopies cannot be placed on the grassy areas outside the courthouse but can be placed directly on the concrete, either near the courtyard area or on top of the upper plaza area near the Swede Street entrance.
Officials said media canopies should also be placed so as not to interfere with any pedestrian traffic. County officials advised media outlets to bring some sort of weight or anchor to secure the canopy on the concrete.
|Bill Cosby Leaves Court/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
From crowds to canopies, it should be an interesting few weeks here at the courthouse.
William Henry Cosby Jr., as his name appears on charging documents, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with allegations he had inappropriate sexual contact with Andrea Constand, a former Temple University athletic department employee, at his Cheltenham home after plying her with blue pills and wine sometime between mid-January and mid-February 2004.
Stay tuned. Cosby’s trial gets under way on Monday morning.
Once the trial begins, I’ll have daily reports for Digital First Media publications. You can also find breaking Cosby news by following @MontcoCourtNews on Twitter.