NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—Five women who say Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them may testify at his upcoming Pennsylvania trial, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill ruled Thursday.
The ruling may determine the result of the retrial after a jury deadlocked in the initial Cosby trial where only one woman testified in addition to accuser Andrea Constand.
Cosby’s defense attorneys and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office had no immediate comment. Cosby has previously denied all claims of sexual misconduct.
Cosby, 80, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania mansion in January 2004. Last June, O’Neill declared a mistrial after jurors deliberated for 52 hours without being able to reach a verdict. His new trial is scheduled to begin Monday, April 2, with jury selection starting on March 29.
The two sides met in court on March 5 and 6 to argue several pre-trial motions. The most heated exchanges were over Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele’s request to have 19 accusers to testify as “prior bad act” witnesses to show a “common plan, scheme or design.”
Cosby’s teams had argued allowing any of them to testify — let alone all of them — would unfairly bias the jury, especially in light of the recent #metoo movement, which has already toppled more than 100 men.
“The purpose would just be to enrage the jury this time fueled by even more prejudicial…#metoo accusations that have nothing to do with Mr. Cosby at all,” Los Angeles attorney Becky James told the court. “With that atmosphere it’s going to be hard enough to get the jury to focus on the case itself, but to bring in 19 witnesses in that environment would be extremely prejudicial.” CLICK FOR MORE