AP Photo/Matt Rourke
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby’s lawyers will argue Tuesday that prosecutors are reaching back to the “casting couch” era to round up women accusers and build a “stale” sexual assault case against the entertainer.
And they will take a Pennsylvania judge through a time warp to prove their point, challenging sexual misconduct claims that spanned the freewheeling 1960s, patriotic 1980s and gender-bending 21st century.
Prosecutors will ask the judge to let 13 other women testify at the scheduled June trial that they were drugged and molested by Cosby in a “signature” fashion.
However, defense lawyers note there’s little but hazy memories to go on. In a defense filing Monday, they said the women’s memories have been compromised by time and widespread media coverage of the case.
“The fact that even the most fervently held memoires can actually be tainted – or altogether false – is supported by a vast existing and growing body of science,” lawyers Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa wrote.
The pretrial hearing is expected to last two days, with another hearing on the evidence set for December.
Cosby, now 79 and blind, remains free on $1 million bail. It’s been a half-century since the comedian became the first black actor to star in a primetime TV show, “I Spy,” and more than 20 years since his top-ranked homage to black family life, “The Cosby Show,” stopped filming.
He had beaten back a Temple University employee’s sexual assault complaint in 2005 when prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him.
But a new prosecutor, District Attorney Kevin Steele, reopened the Montgomery County case last year amid new evidence: the scores of public accusers and a newly unsealed deposition that showed Cosby acknowledging he gave Andrea Constand three unlabeled pills and some wine before sticking his hand down her pants. Constand, then 30, said she was only semi-conscious after taking what she thought were herbal pills. She had met Cosby, a Temple booster, through her job, and said she went to his house that night for career advice.
Constand settled a civil lawsuit with Cosby in 2006. The defense, in their motion Monday, said her accounts of her relationship with Cosby changed in her initial police statements – and they said the two had been intimate before.
They also took aim at prosecution claims that Cosby attacked vulnerable young women in “signature” fashion after offering to mentor them. Defense lawyers challenge the point, saying the women had different types of friendships with Cosby, met him in different cities, and were various ages. The defense will ask Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill to bar their “prior bad act” testimony.
“Even if proven (and it could not be), the age-old ‘casting couch’ is not unique to Mr. Cosby, and thus not a ‘signature’ nor a basis for the admissibility of these witnesses’ stories, let alone a conviction,” the defense lawyers wrote.
Judge O’Neill has so far sided with prosecutors in refusing to dismiss the case.
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