Bill Cosby appeal denied
Former entertainer loses bid for new trial, reduced sentence
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.
Bill Cosby as he entered prison on Sept. 25, 2018, to serve 3-to-10year prison term on sexual assault charges.