Bill Cosby loses lat­est bid to have sex as­sault charges dis­missed

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

NOR­RIS­TOWN: A Penn­syl­va­nia judge has de­nied Bill Cosby’s lat­est bid to have the sex­ual as­sault charges against him thrown out, rul­ing that the 78-year-old co­me­dian must stand trial.

Judge Steven O’Neill re­jected Cosby’s ar­gu­ments that pros­e­cu­tors vi­o­lated his rights by re­fus­ing to call the ac­cuser, An­drea Con­stand, as a wit­ness at a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing in May, thus shield­ing her from cross-ex­am­i­na­tion.

“This case shall pro­ceed to trial on those counts,” O’Neill said at the con­clu­sion of a three-hour hear­ing in the Mont­gomery County Court of Com­mon Pleas on Thursday.

Once one of the most beloved US en­ter­tain­ers thanks to his fam­ily-friendly per­sona, Cosby is fac­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual as­sault from dozens of women stretch­ing back decades.

Con­stand’s al­le­ga­tions that Cosby as­saulted her at his home in 2004 have re­sulted in the only crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion against him, as most of the other claims in­volve in­ci­dents that are too old to pro­duce charges.

Cosby, who wore a pin­striped tan jacket and used a cane to walk, has de­nied as­sault­ing any­one and has por­trayed the en­counter with Con­stand as con­sen­sual.

“To­day some­one who has given so much to so many had his con­sti­tu­tional rights tram­pled once again,” said Brian McMona­gle, a lawyer for Cosby, af­ter O’Neill’s rul­ing.

Thursday’s pro­ceed­ing stemmed from a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing in May to de­ter­mine whether enough ev­i­dence ex­isted to have Cosby stand trial.

At that hear­ing, pros­e­cu­tors chose not to call Con­stand as a wit­ness. In­stead, two po­lice de­tec­tives who took her state­ment in 2005 tes­ti­fied as to what she told them at the time.

Christo­pher Tay­back, one of Cosby’s lawyers, said pros­e­cu­tors were us­ing “hearsay ev­i­dence” im­prop­erly, rob­bing Cosby of his con­sti­tu­tional right to con­front his ac­cuser while re­ly­ing on an 11-year-old state­ment plagued with in­con­sis­ten­cies.

“It’s a state­ment that on its face begs more ques­tions than it an­swers,” he said.

Cosby’s lawyers said the case should be dis­missed or, in the al­ter­na­tive, Con­stand should be or­dered to tes­tify at a new pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing and face cross-ex­am­i­na­tion.

But pros­e­cu­tors said cur­rent case law al­lows the use of hearsay at pre­lim­i­nary hear­ings, even though the is­sue is pend­ing be­fore the Penn­syl­va­nia Supreme Court.

District At­tor­ney Kevin Steele told O’Neill his of­fice did not want to “re-trau­ma­tise vic­tims” by re­quir­ing them to tes­tify about their as­saults a num­ber of times.

“They’re say­ing they want to con­front the wit­ness?” Steele told re­porters fol­low­ing the hear­ing. “Let’s go to trial and con­front the wit­ness. We want to get this case in front of a jury, and he can have a jury of his peers de­cide if he’s guilty.”

The hear­ing of­fered a pre­view of the de­fence trial strat­egy, which will prob­a­bly fo­cus on Con­stand and her cred­i­bil­ity.

Con­stand, a for­mer basketball coach at Cosby’s alma mater Tem­ple Univer­sity, has ac­cused him of drug­ging her and then as­sault­ing her on a couch.

Cosby main­tained they en­gaged in con­sen­sual acts. – Reuters

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