Wednesday 23 May 2018

Prosecutors want to call 19 women to give evidence against Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby (AP/Matt Rourke)
Bill Cosby (AP/Matt Rourke)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Prosecutors in Bill Cosby's retrial want to call as many as 19 other women to the witness box to show he had a five-decade pattern of drugging and harming women.

Cosby is due in court for a pre-trial hearing on Monday, less than two weeks after his daughter's death, as his lawyers clash with prosecutors over how many of his accusers are allowed to give evidence at his April 2 sexual assault.

Judge Steven O'Neill allowed just one other accuser to take the witness stand at Cosby's first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year. Prosecutors had proposed calling as many as 13. They added six more to the list for the retrial, including model Janice Dickinson.

Cosby's lawyers have said they would seek to delay the retrial if other accusers are given a chance to testify. They said they would need extra time to look into the allegations.

Jury selection is set to begin on March 29.

Cosby's lawyers wrote in a court filing that some of the other accusers' allegations date to the 1960s and are "virtually impossible to defend against".

"Developing a defence to any of these outdated claims will require unusual amounts of investigative effort that cannot be completed by the present trial date," the lawyers wrote.

Cosby's 44-year-old daughter, Ensa, died of kidney disease on February 23. His lawyers have given no indication they would seek to delay Monday's hearing.

In January, the 80-year-old entertainer was suddenly out and about in his hometown of Philadelphia in what legal experts said was an effort to rebuild his good-guy image. Over a two-week span, Cosby emerged from a long period of near-seclusion to have dinner with friends at a restaurant and to give his first comedy performance in more than two years.

Prosecutors are counting on other accusers testifying to show there was a sinister side to Cosby's public persona as America's Dad, cultivated through his role as an affable Jell-O pitchman and family sitcom star.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested former Temple University women's basketball official Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home. He remains free on bail.

Prosecutors led off Cosby's first trial with evidence from the one other accuser they were allowed to call, Kelly Johnson, who worked for Cosby's agent.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Ms Constand, Ms Johnson and Ms Dickinson have done.

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