A judge on Friday publicly identified members of the jury that convicted Bill Cosby of sexual assault last month, but warned that reporters could face criminal charges if they hound jurors who don’t want to be bothered.
Judge Steven O’Neill released the names after what he described as a 21-day “cooling-off period” to allow jurors to return to their personal lives after three weeks sequestered at a hotel for the trial.
The Associated Press and other media organizations went to court for access to the names and O’Neill said he was bound to release them under a state Supreme Court ruling making them public under the First Amendment.
O’Neill warned news outlets to respect jurors who refuse interviews or say they want privacy. He told jurors not to divulge what other members of the jury said during deliberations.
Two jurors reached Friday declined comment.
The jury issued a statement as a group days after the April 26 verdict, saying it had “absolutely no reservations” about convicting the 80-year-old Cosby of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
The seven men and five women from the Philadelphia area said they found accuser Andrea Constand’s testimony about Cosby drugging and molesting her at his home in January 2004 “credible and compelling.”
They also asked for privacy and respect.
In his order releasing the names, O’Neill said one media outlet had interrupted Mother’s Day last Sunday with telephone calls to at least six jurors.
Prosecutors argued the jurors’ names should be kept secret, citing privacy concerns. Cosby’s lawyer never took a side.
After O’Neill made it clear that the law would force him to release the names, prosecutor Adrienne Jappe made the suggestion that he wait a while.
She cited a 90-day delay in releasing juror names in the Casey Anthony case. Media lawyer Paul Safier said that was different because jurors were threatened after acquitting the Florida mother in 2011 of charges she killed her young daughter.
Cosby is confined to his home awaiting sentencing Sept. 24. Cosby turns 81 in July and is likely to face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
O’Neill ordered Cosby be outfitted with a GPS monitoring bracelet and said he needs permission to leave the home, and only then to visit with lawyers or go to the doctor.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, as Constand has done.