Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Life&Culture | By Peggy Hughes

Bill Cosby's sexual assault case will proceed to trial, judge says

Bill Cosby's sexual assault case will proceed to trial, judge says

He has said the encounter was consensual. Prosecutors tried to introduce evidence from 13 other women, but were denied.

Cosby's lawyers will address the issue in court Tuesday.

O'Neill and attorneys for both sides retreated into chambers nearly immediately after court began Monday. The judge, though, did leave open the possibility that he might allow Ms. Jackson to testify at the retrial.

If the first trial proved anything, she told O'Neill, it is that their testimony is needed to defend against the defense's "inevitable attacks" on Constand's credibility.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand, Johnson and Dickinson have done.

Prosecutors are seeking to call the accusers to the witness stand to show Cosby had a long history of drugging and violating women. They said they would seek to delay the retrial if any of the women were allowed to give evidence so they could have more time to investigate their claims. Cosby was arrested on December 30, 2015, meaning any encounter prior to December 30, 2003 would have fallen outside the 12-year statute of limitations.

At the same time, they argued jurors should hear about Cosby's secret settlement with the woman he's accused of molesting, aiming to portray her as a money-grubbing liar.

Judge Steven O'Neill rejected the prosecution's request Monday to throw Cosby's new lawyers off the case. The judge calls the allegation serious but says he's reluctant to break up Cosby's legal team with his retrial looming. That's at least eight years before Constand says he assaulted her at his suburban Philadelphia home.

Prosecutors had tried to admit 13 other women to the case past year, but Judge O'Neil admitted only one. They asked a judge to postpone the criminal trial and to also dismiss the charges. Steele and Jappe argued a decision by a state court in a homicide case, "that was decided after" O'Neill's February 2017 ruling, determined that certain "prior bad acts evidence" is admissible at a trial.

Cosby, who entered the courtroom on the arm of his spokesman, is charged with drugging and molesting Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home.

When defense lawyers continued to deride prosecutors for choosing 19 other women to testify against Cosby, Jappe shot back, "Let's be clear, I didn't pick the 19".

They argued that allowing the women to take the witness stand would force the jury make separate determinations about whether Cosby harmed them, devolving his retrial into a series of mini-trials.

Meanwhile, news of Cosby's ongoing court hearing comes a week after the death of his daughter Ensa, who lost her battle with renal disease, a chronic kidney condition.

Bill Cosby's lawyers fought Tuesday to block a parade of women from testifying against him at his upcoming sexual assault retrial, saying the accusers are peddling "ancient allegations" that would prejudice the jury against the 80-year-old comedian.

Cosby's retooled defense team is due to clash with prosecutors over the potential witnesses at a pretrial hearing on Monday.

Cosby faces charges 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.

At Cosby's first trial a year ago, which ended in a hung jury, Judge Steven O'Neill barred prosecutors from mentioning Cosby's past and allowed just one other accuser to testify. A judge had allowed just one other accuser to testify.

If the defense loses its bid to have the charges tossed, Cosby's lawyers are trying to limit the number of accusers who can testify.

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