Cosby's testimony can be used against him
at criminal trial: judge
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[December 06, 2016]
By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) - Comedian Bill Cosby has lost a
bid to keep Pennsylvania prosecutors from using his own words against
him at his criminal sexual assault trial, currently scheduled to begin
no later than June.
Judge Steven O'Neill of the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County,
Pennsylvania, ruled on Monday that prosecutors can introduce potentially
damaging sworn testimony the 79-year-old entertainer gave about his
sexual history during a civil case in 2005.
The testimony, in which Cosby acknowledged giving young women Quaaludes
before engaging in what he described as consensual sexual acts with
them, helped persuade the Montgomery County district attorney to file
charges after it was unsealed in 2015 by a federal judge.
Cosby, the star of the 1980s television hit "The Cosby Show," has seen
his once family-friendly reputation buried under a blizzard of sexual
assault accusations from around 50 women going back decades. The
Pennsylvania case is the only criminal prosecution he faces, though he
has been hit with multiple civil lawsuits.
Andrea Constand, a former basketball coach at Cosby's alma mater of
Temple University, first accused Cosby in 2005 of giving her unspecified
pills and then assaulting her at his home a year earlier.
Cosby's lawyers had argued that the district attorney at the time, Bruce
Castor, had promised Cosby he would not prosecute if Cosby agreed to
testify under oath in Constand's civil lawsuit.
The deal was intended to give Constand some measure of justice, since a
criminal case could not be supported by the evidence, according to
Castor, who testified at a hearing this year.
[to top of second column]
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives for a Habeas Corpus hearing on
sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse in
Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. on July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mark
But O'Neill ruled that Castor's account was inconsistent and said no
written evidence of a non-prosecution deal exists.
"Because there was no promise, there can be no reliance on the part
of the Defendant and principles of fundamental fairness and due
process have not been violated," he wrote.
A spokesman for Cosby declined to comment.
O'Neill has scheduled a two-day hearing next week to address various
pending pretrial matters, including a request from prosecutors to
call as trial witnesses more than a dozen other women who have
leveled assault accusations against Cosby.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool)
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