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Prosecutor Seeks to Allow Testimony of 13 More Bill Cosby Accusers to Prove 'Pattern of Serial Sexual Abuse'

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MICHAEL BRYANT/Philadelphia Inquirer/Pool

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele on Tuesday filed a motion asking a Pennsylvania judge to allow 13 other alleged victims of Bill Cosby to testify at his criminal trial.

The motion was filed just before a pretrial conference got underway. Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said he would schedule a separate hearing on that issue.

“Since the victim disclosed this drug-facilitated assault to the police, other women, suffering nearly identical trauma at the hands of the defendant came forward,” the prosecution’s motion said.

“During the course of this case, the Commonwealth investigated nearly 50 women allegedly victimized by defendant,” the motion states. “What became clear was that the defendant has engaged, over the course of his lifetime, in a pattern of serial sexual abuse.”

The 68-page motion then detailed the account of each of the 13 women prosecutors chose to include.

Cosby, 79, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, now 43, at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, home in January 2004.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty to those charges and denies similar accusations from more than 50 women.

His trial was set Tuesday for June 5, 2017, and the judge said he will issue an order with specific dates in November, early December and January for hearings on the various motions.

DA Steele filed the 404b motion asking that the testimony of 13 of those women be allowed in, under what’s known as “other acts evidence” in Pennsylvania. Admission is up to a judge.

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Earlier this year, former Montgomery County sex crimes prosecutor Rich DeSipio explained to PEOPLE exactly what such a motion might accomplish.

“It’s a pattern of behavior to show his [alleged] plan in committing a crime – to show this is how he commits sexual assaults,” said DeSipio, who used the rule many times while prosecuting sex crimes in Philadelphia and in Montgomery County.

Because the testimony is potentially so prejudicial to a defendant, there has to be striking similarities to the alleged victim’s case, he said.

In Constand’s case, DeSipio outlined a pattern that alleged other acts would have to follow in order to be admissible: “He gets women where he’s in a position of power; he gets them one on one; he then gives them some kind of drug whether it’s alcohol or pills then he touches them in a similar way.

“If something in any one of them is so dissimilar from the current case it isn’t going to be admitted,” DeSipio said. “Just alleging someone was sexually assaulted would not be admitted. It doesn’t have to be identical but pretty close to it.”

While their names are not in the motion, authorities have notified the women of their inclusion or exclusion, the women told PEOPLE.

The rule is used in many sexual assault crimes, DeSipio told PEOPLE.

“Judges are more likely to let this testimony in in sexual assault cases than they are in other types of crimes because usually there’s no other evidence,” he said. “It’s by nature a secret crime. It’s her word against his. There’s not going to be any physical evidence – no DNA, no forensics, no evidence of pills. And usually someone who commits a sex crime doesn’t do it just once.”

On Tuesday, O’Neill also heard arguments on whether a recording of a January 2005 phone call between Cosby, Andrea and her mother, Gianna – in which her mother confronted Cosby about allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting her daughter – should be allowed at trial.

O’Neill then had the prosecutor play the call in court but said he would issue his ruling at a later date.