Bill Cosby will fight bid to call more accusers at sexual abuse retrial

Cosby’s first criminal trial ended in a mistrial in June when jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

FILE: Bill Cosby (left) is escorted outside Montgomery County Courtroom during a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault trial on 3 April 2017 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Picture: AFP

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Comedian Bill Cosby is due to appear in a Pennsylvania court on Monday for a hearing about whether to allow testimony at his retrial on sexual misconduct charges from 19 other women who have made similar accusations against him.

Cosby’s first criminal trial ended in a mistrial in June when jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict. He is charged with drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a former administrator with the women’s basketball team at his alma mater, Temple University.

Best known for his television role as the wise and witty father in The Cosby Show, Cosby has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 50 women over several decades, but the Pennsylvania case is the only one in which he has faced criminal charges.

Cosby (80) has denied wrongdoing, saying that any sexual encounter was consensual.

The pre-trial motion that could have the greatest effect on his retrial, set to begin 2 April in Norristown, Pennsylvania, is a request by prosecutors to call 19 other accusers to the witness stand. If the motion is granted, prosecutors aim to establish a pattern of behaviour to lend credence to Constand’s accusations, according to a court filing.

Before the first trial, prosecutors asked the judge to allow 13 of the 19 women to testify against Cosby, but he allowed only one to do so because in general, a defendant’s prior bad acts are not admissible as evidence that he or she committed a particular crime.

Cosby’s lawyers will argue that the judge should scrap the charges that he assaulted Constand, contending the prosecution cannot prove that Cosby was in Philadelphia and met with Constand between 30 December 2003 and 20 January 2004, a 22-day period in which prosecutors allege the assault occurred, according to court documents.

In addition, the defence has asked for the case to be tossed due to prosecutorial misconduct. The district attorney’s office failed to disclose that Constand told a coworker years ago that she could earn money by making false sexual assault allegations against a famous person, according to a court document filed by Cosby’s attorneys.

That statement was not allowed into evidence at the first trial because the judge ruled it was hearsay.

Cosby will stand trial without one of his biggest defenders. His daughter, Ensa Cosby, who proclaimed his innocence, died on 23 February at age 44 from a chronic kidney ailment.