Bill Cosby seeks new trial or re­duced sen­tence

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @mont­co­court­news on Twit­ter

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.

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