Pennsylvania Judge Rules Only One Additional Accuser Can Testify at Bill Cosby's Trial

Prosecutors wanted 13 accusers to testify at Bill Cosby's June trial for sexual assault

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Photo: ED HILLE/Philadelphia Inquirer

Only one of 13 accusers who prosecutors wanted to testify at Bill Cosby’s upcoming sexual assault trial in June will be allowed to testify, a Pennsylvania judge ruled Friday.

After considering both the prosecution and defense motions as well as legal arguments given at December hearings and in post-hearing briefs, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that only the account of alleged “Victim 6” meets the extremely high legal standards needed to be admitted as a so-called “prior bad act.”

In his one-paragraph order, O’Neill said he balanced the “probative value” of the “other acts” evidence vs. the potential prejudice to the defendant.

Cosby, 79, is charged with indecent aggravated assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, now 43, at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denies similar allegations made by more than 60 women.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele had sought to have testimony by 13 of those 60 women allowed at trial to show Cosby allegedly had a pattern of behavior with women but issued a statement Friday noting O’Neill found victim 6’s testimony “relevant.”

“This ruling is important as the jury will now be allowed to assess evidence that is relevant to establishing a common plan, scheme and design of sexual abuse and an absence of mistake by the defendant,” the statement said.

Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesman, declined to comment on the ruling.

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MICHAEL BRYANT/Philadelphia Inquirer/Pool

According to the prosecution’s Sept. 6 filing, the alleged Victim 6, whose identity has not been revealed, says she first met Cosby in about 1990 through her employment as an assistant to Cosby’s “personal appearance agent,” who was also not named in the brief. She was 29 years old at the time and he was 58.

“In the days and weeks following her initial introduction to the defendant, she formed what she believed to be a sincere friendship and believed him to be very friendly and fatherly to her,” the prosecution brief alleges, adding that Cosby mentored her on future career plans and instilled in her a sense of trust.

At one point, the brief alleges, “defendant invited her to his home to read a script for a possible role on a popular show airing on NBC.” It adds, “This was an uncomfortable experience for her because the script ended with her giving a passionate kiss to defendant. She expressed and showed her discomfort, and defendant made no sexual advances to her during that time.”

In 1996, the brief alleges, she accepted a lunch invitation from him to discuss “career goals” and went to his bungalow near the studio.

“Defendant offered her some red wine, which she declined to drink,” the brief alleges. “He then offered her a white pill so that she could relax. He repeatedly insisted she take the pill with the red wine, convincing her by saying, ‘Would I give anything to hurt you?’ ”

She allegedly refused more than once but eventually put the pill in her mouth while Cosby allegedly “took great efforts to ensure that she ingested the pill — demanding that she open her mouth and lift her tongue” so she finally swallowed it.

Afterward, she “became incapacitated” and “defendant sexually assaulted her” while she was “unable to consent,” speak or “resist” his sexual advances, the brief alleges.

In the defense motion’s post-hearing brief, Cosby’s attorneys dispute her account, noting she waited almost 20 years to come forward.

The defense also says her time frame is so vague — like many of the other accusers — that it makes it impossible for Cosby to be able to refute the allegations with evidence showing where he was at the time.

The defense brief also contends that key evidence needed to rebut prosecution evidence has been lost.

On Monday, O’Neill will hear legal arguments in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, courtroom on Cosby’s request for the trial to be moved elsewhere or have a jury from outside Montgomery County, Pennsylvania brought in due to extensive pre-trial publicity. The prosecution supports bringing in an outside jury but not moving the trial out of the county.

Cosby’s trial is scheduled to begin June 5.

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