Bill Cosby will be back in Montgomery County court Monday for what is expected to be two days of pre-trial hearings. His defense team will argue that the case against the 80-year-old entertainer should be tossed, while the county district attorney will seek to add 19 accusers to the case against the Philadelphia-born comedian.
Here’s what will be same during Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges: the judge, the criminal charges, the Norristown location, and the lead prosecutor.
What’s different: The new jury will be made up of Montgomery County residents; for the previous trial, a panel was was drawn from Allegheny County. Cosby has hired a new legal team, led by former Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau. And, if prosecutors get their way, 19 other women who claim they were molested by Cosby will take the stand against him.
Defense lawyer Chuck Peruto — who is not involved in the case — said if all are allowed to testify, the jury is likely to convict the entertainer.
“I think that if the judge reversed himself on that, Cosby has no chance of acquittal,” Peruto said.
Prosecutors asked that 13 other accusers be allowed to confront Cosby during his first trial, and the judge allowed one of them, Kelley Johnson.
But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided a case recently that prosecutors say clears the way for all 19 to testify.
The case stems from a 2004 encounter at Cosby’s Cheltenham home with then-Temple University employee Andrea Constand. She has testified that she was drugged and molested; Cosby said they engaged in consensual sex acts.
In addition to the question of additional accusers, Cosby’s lawyers will also argue that statements Constand allegedly made to a co-worker should be allowed in as evidence. According to Cosby’s defense team, Constand said years before the 2004 incident that she could make money by falsely accusing a celebrity, something prosecutors deny.
Montgomery County Judge Stephen O’Neill will also hear arguments from the defense that the case should be thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct and lack of evidence.
O’Neill will likely take the arguments “under advisement,” and rule on them some time before the trial starts April 2. But O’Neill may make rulings from the bench.
Peruto said the jury for the retrial may be influenced by factors outside of the evidence presented — including the #MeToo movement, which could add fuel to the prosecutors’ case. However, the recent death of Cosby’s daughter, Ensa, may make the comedian a more sympathetic character, he said.
“Believe it or not, I’ve talked to many juries after they decide their case, and so many cases are decided on issues that have nothing to do with guilt or innocence or the trial itself,” Peruto said.