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Bill Cosby declines to testify in his sexual assault retrial

About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, sometimes after drugging them, going back decades.

FILE: Comedian Bill Cosby. Picture: AFP

NORRISTOWN - Bill Cosby’s lawyers rested their case on Monday in his retrial on sexual assault charges, with the comedian declining to testify in his own defence against a one-time friend’s accusations that he drugged and raped her in 2004.

“Do you, Mr Cosby, want to testify?” Judge Steven O’Neill asked the entertainer best known as “America’s Dad” for his role in the 1980s TV hit The Cosby Show.

“No, your honour,” Cosby said in a clear voice, seated with his lawyers in Montgomery County Courthouse outside Philadelphia.

Cosby, 80, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, 45, a former administrator of the Temple University women’s basketball team, at his Philadelphia home in January 2004.

He also declined to testify at his first trial on the same charges last year, when the deadlocked jury was unable to reach a verdict, leading prosecutors to try him again. The current trial, now in its third week, began on 9 April.

About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, sometimes after drugging them, going back decades. All the accusations, apart from Constand’s, were too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.

Cosby has denied wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact he had was consensual.

If convicted of all three counts, he would likely face at most 10 years in prison as a first offender under state sentencing guidelines, although Pennsylvania law allows for a maximum penalty of three consecutive 10-year sentences, a prosecution spokesperson said.

Earlier on Monday, Cosby’s lawyers used phone and flight records from January 2004 to try again to convince the jury that he was not at his Philadelphia home at the time of the alleged crime.

The timing is crucial since Cosby was not criminally charged until December 2015, just days before the 12-year Pennsylvania statute of limitations would have expired. The defence has sought to show that a consensual encounter occurred earlier than January 2004.

Douglas Moss, an expert on aviation record keeping, said Cosby’s trips around the United States in January 2004 were accurately reflected in flight logs kept by his private jet pilot, who now suffers from dementia.

District Attorney Kevin Steele sought to show that Cosby could have used other modes of transportation to travel to Philadelphia.

Similarly, Rosyln Yarbrough, who handled scheduling for Cosby at the William Morris Agency, testified that his travel itineraries showed his busy schedule of appearances in January 2004 but did not account for every day of the month.

Judge O’Neill rejected a defence request to call a private investigator as a witness to piece together flight schedules, itineraries and phone calls to show Cosby was out of town at the time he is accused of the attack at his home.

“That’s the lawyer’s job,” O’Neill said, referring to the closing legal arguments, set for Tuesday.

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