Photo: The Canadian Press
Lawyers for Bill Cosby will argue today that his 2018 sexual assault trial was marred by evidence and testimony that should have been excluded as they ask Pennsylvania’s highest court to overturn the conviction.
Cosby, 83, has served more than two years of his three to ten-year prison sentence for drugging and assaulting a woman he met as part of the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in argument Tuesday morning, will consider two issues arising from the lawsuit.
The defense challenged the judge’s decision to let five other accusers testify for the prosecution about their encounters with Cosby in the 1980s. The women said Cosby offered them acting training or mentorship, but the then sexually assaulted after being drugged or intoxicated. This is the same behavior that trial accuser Andrea Constand said she lived on her estate near Philadelphia in 2004. Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court appears keen to address the issue.
The defense will also challenge the decision to let the jury hear the damaging testimony Cosby gave in a sexual assault and defamation lawsuit that Constand brought against him in 2005.
The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until the Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more and more accusers of Cosby come forward. The judge agreed, and suburban Philadelphia prosecutors reopened Constand’s lawsuit against Cosby in 2015 – just months before the statute of limitations expired to arrest him.
Cosby, a once beloved comedian and actor known as ‘Father of America’, has become the first celebrity found guilty of sexual misconduct in the MeToo era. The AP typically does not identify people who claim to be victims of sexual assault without their permission, which Constand granted.