A jury of seven women and five men has been seated in the rape trial of former University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson.
Johnson is charged with sexual intercourse without consent in connection with a Feb. 4, 2012, incident involving a fellow UM student as the two watched a movie at her home.
The jury was whittled down from an initial pool of 400 originally called. The selection process took all of the day Friday and until lunchtime Monday. Five alternates -- two men and three women -- also were chosen, an unusually large number because the trial could last as long as three weeks.
Potential jurors were questioned almost exclusively Monday by defense attorney David Paoli, who quizzed them about their beliefs about false rape accusations, about whether athletes get special treatment, and -- repeatedly -- about the presumption of innocence.
Johnson, said Paoli, "has a tough, tough road here. ... Will everybody pledge to us that you'll presume Jordan innocent throughout this entire trial?"
People in the jury pool nodded solemnly in response.
Later, though, one potential juror said he believed athletes do get special treatment.
"To me, rape isn't about sex, it's about power," he went on to say, "and they [athletes] feel they have more power than other people." He was quickly dismissed.
Paoli also questioned members of the jury pool about comments by former Montana Congressman Pat Williams printed last week in the New York Times and by ESPN.com, in which Williams accused UM of recruiting "thugs" for its football team.
About a half-dozen potential jurors said they'd heard the comments and one drew laughs by adding, "I didn't pay too much attention because he's a politician and he does a lot of talking."
On the issue of false accusations, jurors agreed when Paoli asked if they believed those occur. A handful recounted stories of friends or family members who found themselves falsely accused by women who later recanted.
Paoli also asked members of the jury pool if they had any concerns about the presence of an assistant attorney general - Joel Thompson - on the prosecution team. After many expressed curiosity, Missoula County District Court Judge Karen Townsend explained that the Attorney General's Office has a special unit that assists in high-profile cases and that the practice is not unusual.
And, Paoli brought up the ongoing federal investigation into the Missoula County Attorney's Office, the UM campus police and the Missoula Police Department about how sexual assault cases are handled.
"It sounds as though you are implying that [the Department of Justice investigation] ... is creating a conflict in this case," one potential juror said.
"Do you have concerns?" asked Paoli.
"I do now," said the person.