Cosby back on trial for indecent assault

Bill Cosby has been accused of drugging and molesting former university basketball official Andrea Constand in 2004.
Bill Cosby has been accused of drugging and molesting former university basketball official Andrea Constand in 2004.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Bill Cosby's legal team wanted a three-month postponement after the scope of their work widened when five additional women were allowed to testify at the comedian's upcoming retrial over sexual misconduct charges.

But on Monday Judge Steven O'Neill turned down the request, agreeing to delay the start by just a few days.

He moved jury selection to April 2 instead of March 29 as originally scheduled.

He also denied a motion by Cosby's side to appeal his March 15 order allowing five additional accusers to testify.

Cosby's defence team, headed by Mr Tom Mesereau, the celebrity Los Angeles attorney who got singer Michael Jackson acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005, had requested a longer delay of 90 days.

It marks the second time that the 80-year-old will go on trial, accused of drugging and molesting former university basketball official Andrea Constand in 2004.

In June last year, the judge declared a mistrial when the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on three counts of aggravated indecent assault in Cosby's home in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

The trial irrevocably damaged the once towering icon of United States popular culture, loved by millions as "America's Dad" and best known for his seminal role as a father and obstetrician on hit TV series The Cosby Show (1984 to 1992).

About 60 women have publicly accused the Emmy-winning actor of being a serial sexual predator, but most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute, meaning that the trial last year concerned only one of the alleged victims.

The judge ruled last week that five additional women who claim to have been sexually assaulted by Cosby can testify at the retrial, having last time ruled that only one other accuser could take the stand.

Cosby, now frail and isolated, risks spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

He denies the charges, saying his relations with Ms Constand were consensual.

The Canadian has said that Cosby gave her pills that left her semi-conscious, then made sexual advances - a story similar to those recounted by many of the other accusers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2018, with the headline 'Cosby back on trial for indecent assault'. Print Edition | Subscribe