Bill Cosby ap­peal de­nied

For­mer en­ter­tainer loses bid for new trial, re­duced sen­tence

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @mont­co­court­news on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN >> Bill Cosby has lost his ini­tial bid for a re­duced sen­tence or a new trial on charges he sex­u­ally as­saulted a wo­man at his Chel­tenham man­sion in 2004.

In a one-page or­der is­sued on Tues­day, Mont­gomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill said that “fol­low­ing an ex­haus­tive review of the record” he de­ter­mined that “no hear­ing or ar­gu­ment is re­quired on the is­sues raised” by Cosby in his first round of ap­peals.

The judge said Cosby now has the right to file a di­rect ap­peal of his con­vic­tion to the Penn­syl­va­nia Su­pe­rior Court within 30 days. The judge also in­di­cated that Cosby “has a qual­i­fied right to pe­ti­tion the court for bail pend­ing ap­peal.”

Cosby, 81, cur­rently is be­ing housed at the State Cor­rec­tional Institution at Phoenix in Skip­pack Town­ship.

On Sept. 25, O’Neill sen­tenced Cosby to a 3-to-10-year prison term on charges he sex­u­ally as­saulted An­drea Con­stand, a for­mer Tem­ple Univer­sity ath­letic de­part­ment em­ployee, af­ter drug­ging her with “three blue pills” while she vis­ited his Chel­tenham res­i­dence in Jan­uary 2004. A Mont­gomery County jury con­victed Cosby of charges of ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault in April.

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.

In court pa­pers filed ear­lier this month, Cosby’s de­fense team ar­gued 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.”

De­fense lawyers asked O’Neill to va­cate Cosby’s sen­tence and to re­duce the prison term in the mit­i­gated range of state sen­tenc­ing guide­lines.

Cosby’s ini­tial ap­peal was filed by de­fense lawyers Joseph P. Green Jr. and Peter Gold­berger, who rep­re­sented Cosby at the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing. How­ever, Cosby re­cently re­tained new lawyers, Brian W. Perry and Kris­ten L. Welsen­berger, of Harrisburg, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Re­spond­ing to Cosby’s ap­peal, Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele main­tained Cosby raised “a prover­bial ev­ery­thing-but-the-kitchensink of ar­gu­ments” for a new trial or re­duced sen­tence and that those claims are “mer­it­less.”

Steele and Deputy Dis­trict At­tor­ney Robert M. Falin ar­gued the judge con­sid­ered and weighed Cosby’s age and blind­ness “and rea­son­ably con­cluded that de­fen­dant’s need for cor­rec­tional treat­ment weighed in fa­vor of con­fine­ment, de­spite mit­i­gat­ing ev­i­dence.” Steele and Falin ar­gued Cosby “ar­tic­u­lates noth­ing that would com­pel mod­i­fi­ca­tion of his sen­tence.”

De­fense 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.

Busi­ness records, de­fense lawyers claimed, demon­strated Cosby was not present in the place al­leged dur­ing the time that Con­stand as­serted the of­fense oc­curred.

Steele and Falin re­sponded that Cosby “ig­nores, how­ever, his own ad­mis­sion un­der oath” at a civil de­po­si­tion that the in­ci­dent oc­curred in 2004, within the statute of lim­i­ta­tions, and that the vic­tim con­firmed that fact.

Dur­ing the April trial, Steele and co-prose­cu­tors M. Ste­wart Ryan and Kris­ten Fe­den 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 that ended in a mis­trial in 2017 or at the April re­trial, main­tained that the con­tact he had with Con­stand was con­sen­sual.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Bill Cosby as he en­tered prison on Sept. 25, 2018, to serve 3-to-10year prison term on sex­ual as­sault charges.

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