Bill Cosby returns to court for new attempt to get criminal charges tossed

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby returned to court here Tuesday to again attempt to persuade a judge to throw out key evidence in the sex-assault case against him stemming from a 2004 encounter with a Temple University employee who had looked up to him as a mentor.

Cosby arrived in court wearing a light grey suit, assisted by aides. He spoke with his lead attorney, Brian McMonagle, extensively before the hearing began.

At stake in the hearing are some of the same issues Cosby's legal team has been raising since the three charges of aggravated sexual assault were filed against him in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia by District Attorney Kevin Steele in December 2015.

Cosby, 79, maintains the encounter at his nearby home with former protegé Andrea Constand, 43, was consensual. Constand, a Canadian now living in Toronto, says he drugged and molested her. She did not report their encounter until a year later, when the then-district attorney, Bruce Castor, decided there was not enough evidence to pursue Cosby.

Steele is pursuing Cosby now because he believes he has new evidence: Cosby's own words in a deposition he gave in the civil lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, which was later settled. Also, the transcript of a secretly recorded phone call between Cosby and his accuser's mother, Gianna Constand, also in 2005.

In the deposition, Cosby acknowledged obtaining drugs to give to women he sought for sex. In the phone call, he described his sexual encounter with Constand.

McMonagle argues that the deposition should be tossed because it was given after Castor made a verbal promise to Cosby not to prosecute him if he agreed to testify in the deposition.

McMonagle wants the phone call suppressed because he argues it violates Pennsylvania's wiretap law, which requires that both parties be aware of recording. At the time of the call, Gianna Constand was in Canada, Cosby was in California.

Cosby's last appearance in court was in early July, when he tried to get the charges dismissed on the grounds that Constand did not take the stand for cross-examination.

But he lost that argument. Judge Steven O'Neill ruled that the prosecution could use a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court allowing hearsay evidence, such as Constand's statement to police, rather than forcing an accuser to appear in court. Since the case was reopened in December, Constand has not appeared in court to face Cosby.

Of the nearly 60 women who have accused Cosby of drugging and/or raping them in episodes dating back decades, only Constand's accusations have resulted in criminal charges. Each charge against him carries five to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Meanwhile, Cosby’s defense team has been trimmed: Monique Pressley, formerly the public face of Cosby's various legal battles (he's also fighting civil lawsuits filed in connection with the accusations against him), removed herself from his team last month, according to court filings.

If the judge rules to move forward with the case, a trial date could be scheduled.


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