Former Michael Jackson lawyer to defend Bill Cosby in November retrial

Tom Mesereau arriving at the premiere of Sony Pictures' This Is It in Los Angeles on Oct 27, 2009.
Tom Mesereau arriving at the premiere of Sony Pictures' This Is It in Los Angeles on Oct 27, 2009. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The onetime attorney of late pop icon Michael Jackson will now defend disgraced television icon Bill Cosby in his upcoming retrial for sexual assault.

After Mr Brian McMonagle quit earlier this month, his California-based co-counsel Angela Agrusa also filed a motion asking to be taken off the trial.

The pair helped Cosby - on trial for sexual assault in June - secure a hung jury.

Mr Tom Mesereau - known for his flamboyant style and long white hair - will now lead Cosby's legal team.

The 67-year-old is known for getting an acquittal for Jackson in 2005 after a four-month trial on child molestation charges.

He will now defend Cosby, the pioneering African-American actor and comedian who is due to go back on trial in November for allegedly drugging and molesting a former Temple University basketball official in 2004.

Judge Steven 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 Cosby, now frail and isolated, who risked spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

But the trial damaged the once towering icon of US popular culture, best known for his seminal role as a father and obstetrician on hit 1984-1992 TV series The Cosby Show.

Around 60 women have publicly accused the Emmy-winning actor of being a serial sexual predator.