Cosby in court as prosecutors aim to call
13 accusers as witnesses
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[December 13, 2016]
By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) - Bill Cosby returns to a
Pennsylvania courtroom on Tuesday, where his lawyers are expected to
renew their battle with prosecutors over whether more than a dozen
female accusers can testify at his criminal sexual trial next year.
The outcome of the argument is crucial for Cosby, 79. If prosecutors are
successful, the entertainer would face a parade of witnesses portraying
him as a serial predator, rather than a single woman testifying about a
decade-old encounter fueled by drugs and alcohol.
Cosby's reputation as a family-friendly comedian has been shredded by
sexual assault accusations from around 50 women going back decades. Thus
far, the Pennsylvania case is the only criminal prosecution he faces,
though he is fighting multiple civil lawsuits.
Judge Steven O'Neill of the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County,
Pennsylvania, has scheduled two full days to hear arguments on various
Andrea Constand, a former basketball coach at Cosby's alma mater Temple
University, has accused him of drugging her with pills and wine in 2004
at his home before sexually assaulting her.
Prosecutors have chosen 13 other women whose accounts bear striking
similarities to Constand's story, describing Cosby's efforts to
establish a rapport first before using drugs to incapacitate them.
Typically, prosecutors cannot introduce evidence of unrelated "prior bad
acts," because it could prejudice jurors against a defendant. But state
law allows an exception in rare cases if the previous instances show a
longstanding pattern of behavior.
Cosby's lawyers have argued that it is unfair to allow testimony about
encounters that occurred years or decades ago and remain unproven.
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Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after a
preliminary hearing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 24, 2016.
REUTERS/Matt Rourke/Pool/File Photo
Last week, O'Neill ruled that prosecutors can use at trial
potentially damaging testimony that Cosby gave about his sexual
history in 2005 during Constand's civil case.
Cosby acknowledged giving women Quaaludes as a precursor to engaging
in what he described as consensual sexual acts.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Sandra Maler; Editing by Sandra
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