Sunday 18 August 2019

Prosecutors to cite ‘decades-long behaviour’ as Bill Cosby prepares appeal

The jailed TV star, convicted in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, is trying to get the verdicts overturned, citing trial errors.

File photo of Bill Cosby arriving for his sentencing hearing (Matt Rourke/AP)
File photo of Bill Cosby arriving for his sentencing hearing (Matt Rourke/AP)

By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press

Prosecutors set to defend Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction in appeals court next month call the accusations from other women no coincidence, but “the culmination of a decades-long pattern of behaviour”.

Cosby, a long-beloved actor and comedian, was convicted in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

He turned 82 this month while serving a three-to-10-year prison term for drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

More than 50 women have accused him of similar conduct since trial accuser Andrea Constand went to police in 2005.

Cosby’s lawyers have raised a long list of alleged trial errors as they try to get last year’s verdict overturned.

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Model Janice Dickinson, right, speaks at a press conference, announcing a settlement of her defamation lawsuit against comedian Bill Cosby (Katherine Campione/AP)

They include the judge’s decision to let five other accusers give evidence to bolster Ms Constand’s account.

Montgomery County prosecutors, in a response filed late on Thursday, said such evidence is permissible under Pennsylvania law when it demonstrates a “signature” crime.

“There was no coincidence here. To the contrary, defendant’s drug-facilitated sexual assault of Constand was the culmination of a decades-long pattern of behaviour evidenced by his prior bad acts towards the five witnesses sufficiently ‘distinctive and so nearly identical as to become the signature of the same perpetrator,'” the prosecutors wrote, quoting from case law on the issue.

Arguments in Cosby’s appeal are set for August 12 in Pennsylvania Superior Court in Harrisburg.

Ms Constand, a former professional basketball player from the Toronto area, met Cosby through her job with the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where the long-married Cosby was a popular alumnus, trustee and basketball fan.

Cosby’s lawyers have called the criminal case flawed because of what they insist was a binding agreement with the county prosecutor in 2005 that he would never be charged because of insufficient evidence.

He was arrested a decade later after a federal judge unsealed his damaging deposition in Ms Constand’s 2005 civil suit.

In it, Cosby acknowledged getting quaaludes in the 1970s to give to other women before sex.

After the deposition, he agreed to pay Ms Constand about 3.4 million US dollars to settle the case.

The defence has also challenged Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill’s decision to let the jury hear that deposition evidence, and the references it contains to Cosby’s possession of quaaludes and other drugs.

Cosby told police he gave Benadryl to Ms Constand the night in question to ease her stress.

She said she was falling in and out of consciousness when he digitally penetrated her.

Cosby and his lawyers insist the encounters with Ms Constand and the other accusers were all consensual.

Cosby was nearly 30 years older than them, on average, and had often promised to help them pursue entertainment careers, prosecutors noted in their filing.

PA Media

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