The trial of accused serial groper Bill Gene Hobbs is now underway, and in an odd development, the man accused of groping and fondling 13 different women got an all-male jury for his criminal trial.
After a string of alleged sexual assaults dating back to at least 2020, accused serial sexual predator Bill Gene Hobbs finally had his trial begin on Wednesday in San Francisco. And while he's not facing criminal charges for all his many alleged assaults, and in one of these incidents the victim was just 15 years old at the time, Hobbs still has more alleged victims in this case (13) than he has jurors in his trial (12).
The trial of a man accused of stalking and grabbing 13 women in San Francisco began Wednesday with a startling lineup of jurors: a dozen men and no women. https://t.co/D0IT1WyW41— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) May 4, 2023
And as the trial started, the Chronicle noted a curious detail about those jurors. All of the seated jurors in this trial are men, that paper reports. Hobbs is facing one felony charge of false imprisonment and 12 misdemeanor charges of battery, sexual battery, and assault.
Though if you’ve ever been through jury selection, the underlying causes that resulted in an all-male jury make sense for the most enraging of reasons. Several women were dismissed from the juror pool because they’d had experiences with sexual assault or harassment, and said they could not be impartial about evidence of this nature.
Former federal prosecutor and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, who is not involved with the trial, told the Chronicle that an all-male jury is “a bit unusual, especially given the nature of the case.” But Levenson added that “jurors can certainly be excused if they have had experiences, directly or indirectly, that would prevent them from being fair to either side.”
Two alleged victims testified as the trial opened Wednesday. One named only as “Olivia” testified that Hobbs had randomly pulled her into a hug and “pretended” to know her, told her she was beautiful, and followed her around for multiple blocks. Another named as “Kelsey” said Hobbs grabbed and slapped her buttocks while she was on a jog, and the woman she was jogging with also testified confirming the account.
Hobbs’s public defender Max Breecker seems to be characterizing the case as another Bob Lee stabbing situation, where initial sensational media reports turned out to have inaccuracies. Breecker said Hobbs was depicted as in the media as a “stalker, stalker of women, get him off the streets, a serial harasser. This was the sentiment, this was the passion. This was the rhetoric that was spreading around this city. Every single woman filed a report in response to this media coverage.”
Assistant District Attorney Brittney Delgado countered in court that “This case didn’t come about because of media.” “It came about because of Mr. Hobbs,” she added. “It’s because of Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Hobbs only.”
Hobbs’s trial was expected to continue Thursday at the San Francisco County Superior Courthouse.
Image: Cocoablini via Wikimedia Commons