Bill Cosby retrial for sex assault pushed back to 2018

Comedian Bill Cosby's retrial on charges of sexually assaulting a former administrator at his alma mater in 2004 at his Philadelphia-area home will be postponed from November to March of next year, a judge said on Tuesday.

NEW YORK (AFP) - The retrial of disgraced US television icon Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges on Tuesday (Aug 22) was pushed back to next year, to give his new lawyers time to prepare their defence.

The new trial had been set to begin in Norristown, Pennsylvania - a suburb of Philadelphia - in early November, after his first trial ended in a mistrial in June.

But judge Steven O'Neill agreed on Tuesday that it could be postponed to a date "within the March 15 to April 1, 2018 timeframe," court spokesman James Koval told AFP.

On Monday, Cosby's spokesman announced that Los Angeles-based Tom Mesereau - known for getting an acquittal for pop star Michael Jackson in June 2005 after a four-month trial on child molestation charges - would now lead his defence.

Mesereau and his team - who appeared on Cosby's behalf for the first time Tuesday - argued that they needed more time to get up to speed on the case.

Cosby, the pioneering African American actor and comedian, stands accused of drugging and molesting former Temple University basketball official Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

O'Neill declared a mistrial in June when a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on three counts of aggravated indecent assault after more than 50 hours of deliberations.

The deadlock was a victory of sorts for the 80-year-old Cosby, now frail and isolated, who risked spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

But the trial irrevocably damaged the once towering icon of US popular culture, loved by millions as "America's Dad" and best known for his seminal role as a father and obstetrician on hit 1984-92 TV series The Cosby Show.

Around 60 women have publicly accused the Emmy-winning actor of being a serial sexual predator, but the trial was the only criminal case brought against Cosby as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

Cosby has maintained his innocence, saying his relations with Constand were consensual.