Defense: Cosby is a victim of ‘racial bias’
Entertainer faces trial for alleged 2004 sex assault
Bill Cosby’s lawyers claimed they cannot ignore the ‘racial bias’ present in the criminal justice system.
NORRISTOWN >> In their most recent request to dismiss sex assault charges against Bill Cosby his lawyers claimed they cannot ignore “the unfortunate role that racial bias still plays in our criminal justice system.”
“In a better world, racial bias would be a specter of the past, or, better yet, nonexistent,” lawyers Brian J. McMonagle and Angela C. Agrusa wrote in court papers in which they claim the entertainer is a victim of racial bias, an unfair media blitz and a prosecutors’ decade-old delay in bringing sexual assault charges against him.
The racial bias, Cosby’s lawyers suggested, is evident in a request by Montgomery County prosecutors to allow 13 additional women to testify at Cosby’s trial to bolster their contention that Cosby sexually assaulted Andrea Constand, a former Temple University athletic department employee, at his Cheltenham home in 2004. The 13 women allege to also have been the victims of Cosby’s inappropriate conduct between 1960 and 1990 and District Attorney Kevin R. Steele has argued their testimony is relevant at trial to show Cosby’s behaviors “took on a form of a common plan, scheme or design.”
“Only one of those women self-identifies as AfricanAmerican,” McMonagle and Agrusa claimed. “The commonwealth’s choice preys upon subconscious (or perhaps conscious) beliefs that a white woman is less likely to consent to sex with a black man, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, the time period the commonwealth chose to focus on.
“This turns the presumption of innocence that Mr. Cosby is entitled to into a presumption of guilt, and runs counter to the basic principles upon which the United States was founded,” the lawyers added.
McMonagle argued some
of the 13 women have been paraded in front of the media by high-profile, civil rights lawyers like Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women.
“And the public jumps into a mob, willing to believe unsubstantiated, decades-old allegations against an African-American citizen who has spent the last half a century trying to foster an appreciation for the commonalities of every American, regardless
of race, gender or religion,” McMonagle wrote. “There is no hope that Mr. Cosby can receive a trial free from outside influence in Montgomery County, as due process requires.”
Cosby, 79, faces a June 5, 2017, trial on charges of aggravated indecent assault in connection with his alleged inappropriate contact with Constand.
Steele will have the opportunity to address the defense lawyers’ claims when Judge Steven T. O’Neill holds a hearing on the defense request to dismiss charges. Steele indicated Thursday he is drafting
a response to McMonagle’s wide-ranging pretrial motion.
It’s not the first time McMonagle invoked race in the case.
After Cosby’s pretrial hearing Sept. 6, McMonagle said from the courthouse steps, “Mr. Cosby has spent his entire life trying to fight against injustice, trying to help other people overcome racism and prejudice,” and claimed the media has presumed Cosby guilty, not innocent.
“The media has championed the causes of his accusers with little thought to investigation, with little
thought to exposing the motivations behind any accusations …” McMonagle said at the time.
That same day, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt fired off a statement expounding on the defense team’s claims.
“Mr. Cosby is no stranger to discrimination and racial hatred and throughout his career Mr. Cosby has always used his voice and his celebrity to highlight the commonalities and has portrayed the differences that are not negative - no matter the race, gender and religion of a person.
“Yet, over the last 14 months, Mr. Cosby and those who have supported him, have been ignored while lawyers like Gloria Allred hold press conferences to accuse him of crimes for unwitnessed events that allegedly occurred almost a half century earlier,” the statement read.
Wyatt claimed Cosby’s civil rights have been trampled upon and argued the campaign against him “builds on racial bias and prejudice that can pollute the court of public opinion.”
McMonagle also claims
Cosby’s “due process rights were violated” by the prosecution’s “unjustified tenyear delay” in filing charges against him. Cosby has further been prejudiced by the delay in his arrest because his eyesight and memory have “considerably declined” in the 11-year period since the alleged assault, preventing him from assisting in his defense, McMonagle wrote in court papers.
McMonagle argued numerous factors “created a perfect storm of prejudice, bias and delay that requires dismissal of the stale charges against Bill Cosby.”
Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown on Sept. 6.