NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Bill Cosby was back in a Montgomery County courtroom on Monday as his defense team wants to stop some of his accusers from testifying at his sexual assault retrial.
Three blue pills, water, wine and the ability to consent. Those are the critical elements at play and in dispute at the hearing to flush out lingering issues before March 29 jury selection.
Prosecutors want to introduce evidence of prior bad acts, by calling 19 accusers, from a span of 40 years, whom an assistant DA says were subjected to the “signature of the same perpetrator.”
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill told Cosby he understands it must be difficult to be in court so soon after the death of his daughter, adding the court does extend its sympathies.
Prosecutors argued against Cosby’s out-of-state lawyers being allowed to be practice in Pennsylvania, with Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele pointing to what he calls egregious misstatements the defense has made in court filings, calling them “flat-out lies,” and a “wreckless disregard of truth.”
The defense argues charges against Cosby should be thrown out for two reasons: one because prosecutors can’t prove the alleged incident happened within the statute of limitations, and two, because of prosecutorial misconduct as the defense claims prosecutors knew of a witness who could contradict the accuser’s story, but failed to investigate.
Prosecutors argue both involve fact-finding and should be up to a jury.
The 80-year-old comedian, who entered the courtroom on the arm of his spokesman, is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home. Cosby said the encounter was consensual. A jury deadlocked on the case last year, setting the stage for a retrial.
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.
Prosecutors have raised the prospect of calling as many as 19 women to the witness stand, including model Janice Dickinson, in an attempt to show a sinister flip side to Cosby’s public persona as “America’s Dad,” cultivated through his role as an affable Jell-O pitchman and the star of the top-rated 1980s family sitcom “The Cosby Show.”
Prosecutors allege the assault on Constand was part of Cosby’s five-decade pattern of drugging and harming women.
But Cosby’s high wattage legal team blasted the District Attorney’s office, accusing them of misconduct.
The defense had planned to call a witness to corroborate that alleged account but Judge Steven O’neill sided with prosecutors and determined a jury will make the ultimate decision.
Cosby’s lawyers argue that some of the other accusers’ allegations date to the 1960s and are “virtually impossible to defend against.” They said they would seek to delay the retrial if any of the women were allowed to testify so they could have more time to investigate their claims.
The judge allowed just one other accuser to take the stand at Cosby’s first trial, barring any mention of about 60 others who have come forward to accuse Cosby in recent years.
The only other hint that jurors got of Cosby’s past came from deposition excerpts from 2005 and 2006 in which the star admitted giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
Monday’s hearing comes just 10 days after Cosby’s 44-year-old daughter, Ensa, died of kidney disease. His lawyers have given no indication they would seek to delay the hearing or his retrial.
In January, Cosby emerged from a long period of near-seclusion to have dinner with friends at a restaurant and give his first comedy performance in more than two years. Legal experts said the nights on the town appeared to be an effort to rebuild his good-guy image.
Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball official, at his suburban Philadelphia home. He remains free on bail.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)