Bill Cosby's attorneys say 'ancient accusations' don't belong in court

Prosecutors in Bill Cosby's retrial argued in court Tuesday that more of the comedian's alleged victims should be all...

Posted: Mar 6, 2018 2:05 PM
Updated: Mar 6, 2018 2:05 PM

Prosecutors in Bill Cosby's retrial argued in court Tuesday that more of the comedian's alleged victims should be allowed to testify to show he had a pattern of sexual misconduct.

But the defense said that allowing more accusers to testify against the comedian would unfairly bias the jury and create a due process concern.

Prosecution wants to add 19 women to testify against the comedian

His attorneys argue that allowing more accusers would be prejudicial

The dueling arguments came as part of a pretrial hearing for Cosby's upcoming trial in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.

"This case is about what happened between Mr. Cosby and Ms. Constand on one night," defense lawyer Becky James argued in court. "It's not about what happened 50 years ago. It's not about what happened with other people."

Cosby's previous trial on those charges ended in a mistrial in June when jurors could not come to a unanimous verdict on any of the counts.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said 3,500 jury notices have already gone out, and that the retrial will begin April 2 and could last about a month.

Decision next week on other accusers

At Tuesday's hearing, prosecutors asked that 19 other women be allowed to testify as to Cosby's pattern of sexual misconduct. O'Neill said he will issue a decision sometime next week.

Dozens of women have publicly accused Cosby of misconduct, but the criminal charges in this case solely deal with Constand's allegations. Cosby has denied any wrongdoing, and the vast majority of those other instances occurred outside the statute of limitations.

James, Cosby's attorney, argued that the alleged assaults date too far in time -- as much as 53 years ago, in one case.

"These are just ancient accusations," she said.

She also countered they are not similar to the Constand case and would be unfairly prejudicial and distracting for the jury.

Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe on Monday "spent two hours telling you about 19 sexual assaults that did not happen," James said. "The problem is none of that was proven."

At the earlier trial, prosecutors presented almost no physical evidence, turning it into a quintessential he said, she said case. Prosecutors argue that adding more voices against the 80-year-old will help establish that he engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct.

One other woman, Kelly Johnson, was allowed to testify last year, saying that Cosby had assaulted her in the mid-1990s. Prosecutors tried to introduce evidence from 13 other women, but the judge denied their request.

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