Cosby’s trial set for sum­mer ...will the ac­cused sex­ual preda­tor find jus­tice?

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

DIS­GRACED US megas­tar Bill Cosby is due to stand trial for sex­ual as­sault on June 5, 2017, in what could see up to 13 other al­leged vic­tims tes­tify against the award-win­ning co­me­dian turned pariah.

Judge Steven O’Neill set the date after the 79-year-old pi­o­neer­ing black co­me­dian made mul­ti­ple at­tempts to head off the pos­si­bil­ity of a trial stem­ming from one al­leged in­ci­dent at his Philadel­phia home in 2004.

But O’Neill ad­vised lawyers that the trial could start even ear­lier if sched­ules per­mit. He also said that given the de­fence as­ser­tion that Cosby is blind, the de­fen­dant may re­quire spe­cial as­sis­tance in court.

An­drea Con­stand, who worked for the Tem­ple Univer­sity bas­ket­ball team at the time, al­leges that Cosby plied her with pills and wine, then sat her down on a couch at his Philadel­phia home where he as­saulted her.

Cosby says he gave her a pill, but in­sists their re­la­tions with con­sen­sual. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a US$25,000 fine if con­victed.

Dressed in a pin­stripe jacket and gray pants, Cosby had ap­peared an­i­mated and en­gaged in con­ver­sa­tion with his lawyers be­fore Tues­day’s hear­ing at Mont­gomery County Court­house in Nor­ris­town, north­west of Philadel­phia.

But the prospec­tive trial ce­ments a bru­tal fall from grace for the on­ce­trea­sured father fig­ure and ap­par­ent model cit­i­zen who smashed through racial bar­ri­ers and de­lighted au­di­ences with his gen­tle, self-dep­re­cat­ing hu­mour.

In re­cent years, more than 50 women have pub­licly ac­cused him of be­ing a sex­ual preda­tor span­ning four decades, mak­ing re­mark­ably sim­i­lar al­le­ga­tions that he fed them seda­tives and al­co­hol that made them un­able to re­sist his ad­vances.

The vast ma­jor­ity of the al­leged abuses hap­pened too long ago to pros­e­cute, mak­ing the Con­stand case the only crim­i­nal charge brought against Cosby.

Mont­gomery County prose­cu­tor Kevin Steele told the court that he wants up to 13 other al­leged vic­tims to tes­tify at trial. The judge has yet to agree and Cosby’s le­gal team will likely put up fierce re­sis­tance.

The de­fence vowed their client would con­tinue “the fight for his rights” and ac­cused a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing other al­leged sex­ual as­sault vic­tims of wag­ing a cam­paign built “on racial bias and prej­u­dice”.

“When the me­dia re­peats her ac­cu­sa­tions – with no ev­i­dence, no trial and no jury – we are moved back­wards as a coun­try and away from the Amer­ica that our civil rights lead­ers sac­ri­ficed so much to cre­ate,” they said.

Those al­le­ga­tions have seen celebrity pals and mil­lions more ma­lign the leg­end who at­tained his great­est fame for his role as a lov­able ob­ste­tri­cian and fam­ily man in the hit 1980s tele­vi­sion sit­com The Cosby Show.

The Con­stand case was ini­tially set­tled by a civil suit in 2006 but pros­e­cu­tors re­opened claim­ing that new ev­i­dence had come to light.

The for­mer star posted bail at $1 mil­lion in the case last De­cem­ber, but has yet to en­ter a plea.

If he pleads guilty, Cosby could avoid the enor­mous pub­lic­ity that will come with one of Amer­ica’s most fa­mous en­ter­tain­ers go­ing on trial.

In her orig­i­nal de­po­si­tion in Jan­u­ary 2005, Con­stand said Cosby plied her with pills and wine, then sat her down on a couch, where the ac­tor al­legedly fon­dled her breasts, put his fin­gers in her vagina and put her hand on his erect pe­nis.

Cosby’s le­gal team mock Con­stand’s cred­i­bil­ity, say­ing she chopped and changed her ev­i­dence, and omit­ted from the fi­nal ver­sion ly­ing down on a bed next to the ac­tor and later vis­it­ing his home for din­ner.

Con­stand, who now lives in Canada, has yet to ap­pear at any pub­lic hear­ing.

Cosby’s most fa­mous role was as Cliff Huxtable, the af­fa­ble father of an up­per-mid­dle-class black fam­ily in New York, in The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992.

It was one of the most pop­u­lar TV se­ries of all time and jet­ti­soned the ac­tor into a life of fame and mil­lions, fol­low­ing a hum­ble child­hood dur­ing which he was raised by a maid and a US Navy cook.

Cosby served in the Navy him­self and won an ath­letic schol­ar­ship to Tem­ple, be­fore mov­ing into com­edy. In ad­di­tion to tele­vi­sion, he wrote books and ap­peared in movies.

His wife Camille has stood by his side. The cou­ple have five chil­dren. Their son En­nis was shot dead in 1997 while chang­ing a flat tire in Cal­i­for­nia.

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