Bill Cosby seeks new trial or reduced sentence
NORRISTOWN >> Bill Cosby wants the judge who sentenced him to up 10 years in prison on charges he sexually assaulted a woman at his Cheltenham mansion in 2004 to grant him a new trial or to reduce his sentence “in the interest of justice.”
Cosby, through his lawyers Joseph P. Green Jr. and Peter Goldberger, filed papers in Montgomery County Court maintaining the 3-to10-year prison term imposed against him on Sept. 25 was not necessary and “not consistent with the protection of the public, the gravity of the offense as it relates to the impact on the life of the victim and on the community and the rehabilitative needs of the defendant.”
Defense lawyers claimed Judge Steven T. O’Neill abused his discretion by giving undue weight to “retribution” over “rehabilitation, deterrence and incapacitation” when he sentenced an “81-year-old, blind defendant who had not even been accused of any criminal conduct occurring within the past ten or more years.”
“By undervaluing the mitigating impact of age and disability and overestimating any present danger to the community, the excessive severity of the sentence imposed violated the governing statutes and rules, and thus constituted an abuse of discretion,” Green and Goldberger argued.
The lawyers asked O’Neill to vacate Cosby’s sentence and to reduce the prison term in the mitigated range of state sentencing guidelines.
Last month, O’Neill sentenced Cosby to 3 to 10 years in a state correctional facility on charges of aggravated indecent assault in connection with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University athletic department employee, after drugging her with “three blue pills,” while she visited his home in January 2004. Cosby currently is being housed at the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix in Skippack Township.
The lawyers also sought a new trial for Cosby, arguing the verdict was “against the weight of the evidence,” specifically challenging that the crime occurred, “if at all,” within the 12-year statute of limitations, that is, in January 2004 rather than in late 2003 or earlier.
“The defense introduced business records demonstrating that Mr. Cosby was not present in the place alleged during the time that the complainant asserted the offense occurred,” the lawyers wrote.
The charges were lodged against Cosby on Dec. 30, 2015, before the 12-year statute of limitations to file charges expired.
Defense lawyers also challenged the authenticity of some of the evidence, specifically, a recording of a phone conversation between Cosby and Constand’s mother, which prosecutors used to convict Cosby.
“Had this information been known at the time of trial, the tape evidence would not have been admitted, or if admitted would have come in subject to a powerful challenge leading the jury to doubt its reliability. A different verdict would likely result if a new trial were granted,” Green and Goldberger argued.
Judge O’Neill has not revealed if he will hold a hearing on the defense request. Prosecutors will have the chance to file a response to the defense claims.
If the judge denies Cosby’s requests, then the defense would have to take their fight to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
In April, a jury of seven men and five women convicted Cosby of the charges. Cosby was in his 60s at the time of the assault and Constand was 30.
It was the second trial for Cosby, who played Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992. Cosby’s first trial in June 2017 ended in a mistrial when a jury selected from Allegheny County couldn’t reach a verdict.
During the 14-day retrial in April, the jury comprised of Montgomery County residents found that Cosby sexually assaulted Constand while she was unconscious and without her consent while she visited his home to discuss her career.
During the retrial, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and co-prosecutors M. Stewart Ryan and Kristen Feden were permitted to call five additional women, who accused Cosby of uncharged sexual misconduct between the years 1982 and 1996, to testify, including model Janice Dickinson, who testified Cosby raped her during a 1982 meeting in his hotel room in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. During Cosby’s first trial in June 2017 O’Neill permitted only one other accuser to testify.
Prosecutors described Cosby as a trusted mentor who betrayed the friendship he had with Constand and said the criminal case was “about trust…about betrayal.” Prosecutors argued Constand did not have the ability to consent to sexual contact.
Constand, 45, of Ontario, Canada, testifying 7 ½ hours over two days, said after taking the blue pills she began slurring her words and was unable to fight off Cosby’s sexual advances. The former director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University claimed Cosby guided her to a couch, where she passed out.
Constand testified she was “jolted” awake to find Cosby touching her breasts, digitally penetrating her and forcing her to touch his penis, all without her consent.
Cosby, who did not testify during his first trial or at the retrial, maintained that the contact he had with Constand was consensual.