13 other accusers could join in testimony against Cosby at June sex assault trial

    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci

    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci

    On Tuesday, a Montgomery County judge will hear arguments on whether 13 women who have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assaults dating back to the 1960s can testify during the entertainer’s criminal trial in June.

    This story will be updated to reflect the the news of the hearing.

    He met them everywhere — at the mall, at work, on tennis courts and airplanes. Some were as young as 18 or 19. Many were aspiring actresses or models.

    On Tuesday, a Montgomery County judge will hear arguments on whether 13 women who have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assaults dating back to the 1960s can testify during the entertainer’s criminal trial in June.

    According to court documents filed by the Montgomery County district attorney’s office, the women’s stories are similar enough to that of Andrea Constand, the plaintiff in the forthcoming trial, that they should be admissible as evidence.

    In 2004, Constand said Cosby invited her to his mansion in Cheltenham where he gave her pills and wine before sexually assaulting her. Cosby has maintained the encounter was consensual.

    Under Pennsylvania law on the rules of evidence, prior bad acts otherwise barred from consideration during a criminal trial can be allowed for the purposes of “proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.”

    In practice, that means prosecutors must establish that a pattern of criminal behavior shows intention and that the value and similarity of those acts outweigh the concern of potentially biasing a jury against the accused.

    In each of the 13 accounts, women describe meeting Cosby — either briefly or as part of an ongoing mentor/mentee relationship — and being invited to spend time with the comedian.

    During that time, the women say Cosby gave them either a pill or a drink, which rendered them semi- or unconscious and took advantage of them.

    In a legal brief, Cosby’s defense team blasted the accounts, calling them dependent on “tainted, unreliable memories of women, now in their senior years.”

    According to the defense, the prosecution unfairly flattens the women’s accounts to make them more similar than they in fact are, and that the accounts are too “remote” and “vague” to be verifiable in 2016.

    If allowed, the accounts would bolster the prosecution’s case; the district attorney’s office already had a victory last month in getting a 2005 civil deposition Cosby gave admitted as evidence.

    In that testimony, Cosby described his interactions with Constand and on the day of the alleged assault. He also described separately obtaining Quaaludes, a sedative, to give women before sex. Since that document was unsealed, more than 50 women have come forward to describe personal accounts of sexual assaults by the aging comedian.

    The criminal trial is scheduled to start June 5.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.