Bill Cosby is scheduled to appear in a Montgomery County court Tuesday morning for a pretrial hearing on whether 13 of his accusers should be able to testify against him in his sexual-assault trial set for next year.
Cosby’s defense team has argued that the 13 women should have to go through a competency hearing before taking the stand.
Some of the decades-old accusations of sexual assault against him are unproven and irrelevant, his attorneys said, and the accusers likely have false or distorted memories of the alleged assaults.
More than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, but in Pennsylvania, sex crimes more than 12 years old can’t be prosecuted.
Brian McMonagle, Cosby’s defense attorney, wrote that prosecutors have “chosen to turn this case into a platform for Mr. Cosby’s other accusers to air their even staler, long-ago time-barred claims that they never reported to authorities.”
But Montgomery County prosecutors see bringing in a slate of other accusers as a way of demonstrating a pattern of bad behavior committed.
Courts in Pennsylvania have generally allowed a defendant’s prior acts of sexual misconduct against the same victim to be admitted in sex assault cases. And state appeals courts have also allowed accusers other than the victim to testify about additional bad acts in sex crime trials. But Pennsylvania has not officially adopted what’s known as “the lustful disposition” rule that permits prosecutors to admit evidence, including testifying witnesses, about any other past sexual assaults committed by the defendant.
In most circumstances, prosecutors cannot bring in evidence of a prior incident against a defendant to show that an encounter in question was in keeping with the defendant’s character trait. Yet there are exceptions, including one that applies to prosecuting sex crimes. Federal courts have adopted it, but not all states have.
And since there is room for debate on the issue in Pennsylvania courts, Cosby’s attorney McMonagle is hoping Judge Steven O’Neil prevents the accusers from testifying.
“If the Commonwealth’s plan succeeds, the trial will not be about whether Mr. Cosby ‘sexually assaulted the victim in this case,’: McMonagle wrote. “Rather, it will be a lengthy series of mini-trials about Mr. Cosby’s other accusers.”
Requiring other accusers to be evaluated is a yet another attempt by Cosby to delay or derail the trial set for June, prosecutors contend.
Cosby’s “efforts have caused the wheels of justice to move slowly here,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele wrote in a filing. “It is time for this long-evaded criminal prosecution to proceed to trial.”
In other filings, Cosby’s attorney said the 79-year-old entertainer is legally blind and might have trouble just identifying some people he “supposedly met.”
Cosby’s defense team further asserted that other accusers have little to do with the 2004 incident with Andrea Constand that led to three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
The charges were filed in December, months after a federal judge unsealed small portions of a civil deposition in which Cosby admitted he had purchased Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with, something the Associated Press first reported after becoming an intervening party in the civil suit and urging a federal judge to unseal portions of the depositions.
Constand accused Cosby of giving her three blue pills before sexually assaulting her in January 2004. Cosby denied that he assaulted Constand at his Cheltenham mansion. Cosby did, however, admit in the civil deposition that he provided Constand with the pills, which he said were Benadryl.