Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Cosby charges remain as lawyers fight to limit testimony

Published:Tuesday | March 6, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (centre) returns to the courtroom after a lunch break from a pretrial hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa, yesterday


Bill Cosby made his first court appearance of the #MeToo era yesterday as defense lawyers tried without success to get his sexual assault case thrown out, then turned their attention to blocking some of the 80-year-old comedian's dozens of accusers from testifying at his looming retrial.

Cosby's retooled defense team, led by Michael Jackson's former lawyer Tom Mesereau, argued that telephone records, travel itineraries and other evidence show the alleged assault couldn't have happened when his accuser says it did and thus falls outside the statute of limitations.

Judge Steven O'Neill said he'd leave that for the jury to decide, rejecting a defense motion to dismiss the charges.

Cosby, who entered the courtroom on the arm of his spokesman, is charged with drugging and molesting a Temple University women's basketball executive at his suburban Philadelphia home. Cosby said the encounter was consensual. A jury deadlocked on the case last year, setting the stage for a retrial.

Prosecutors sought yesterday to persuade the judge to allow as many as 19 other accusers to take the stand, including model Janice Dickinson, in an attempt to show a sinister flip side to Cosby's public persona as "America's Dad", cultivated through his role as an affable Jell-O pitchman and the star of the top-rated 1980s family sitcom The Cosby Show.

Prosecutors said the women's testimony is vital to refuting the defense team's "inevitable attacks" on the credibility of accuser Andrea Constand.