News

Cosby's mood at court hearing contradicts claims by his own lawyers

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 14, 2016 4:10 AM
bill_cosby_nov16_3.jpg

Bill Cosby, center, arrives for a hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

(Norristown) -- Bill Cosby's lawyers insist the 79-year-old actor has vision and memory problems that make it difficult for him to help defend himself in his upcoming sexual assault trial.

But the actor seemed mentally fit on Tuesday in a suburban Philadelphia courtroom as he shouted out answers to questions meant for the prosecutor.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele was trying to recall where one alleged assault took place, when Cosby helpfully announced that "the Drake (Hotel) is in Chicago."

At another point, Cosby told the judge, who was trying to figure out his age, that he was born in 1937. On July 12th.

Prosecutors at this week's pretrial hearing are trying to show that Cosby, who was once known as "America's Dad" for his top-rated family sitcom, "The Cosby Show," had a history of drugging and molesting young women. He is charged with sexually assaulting one woman in 2004, but prosecutors are hoping to call 13 other accusers to testify at his spring trial.

"The defendant has engaged, over the course of decades, in a signature pattern of non-consensual sexual assaults on young women who were in an unconscious state due to an intoxicant that the defendant administered to them," Steele argued.

Cosby's lawyers want the accusers barred from taking the stand. The defense is expected to attack their credibility when the hearing resumes on Wednesday.

Judge Steven O'Neill must decide whether to permit all or some of the women to testify under a state law that allows prosecutors to call witnesses of alleged prior bad acts. The accusers include onetime aspiring actresses, a cocktail waitress and a flight attendant, and are among 50 women who have come forward with accusations against Cosby since prosecutors reopened the 2004 case last year.

Tuesday's hearing was testy from the start, with the judge twice warning the lawyers to maintain decorum after courtroom shouting matches that centered on the defense team's practice of publicizing the names of the accusers.

Steele clashed with Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle over the defense's insistence on identifying accusers by name in public documents and a court hearing. Steele suggested that Cosby's lawyers were publicizing them in an attempt to intimidate the women.

McMonagle said many of the women had already gone public with their allegations.

"These are witnesses in a trial. They are not children," he argued.

The judge ultimately ruled that Cosby's lawyers could identify 11 of the women by name since they had already told their stories publicly. He said two of the women have remained out of the spotlight and should not be identified in court.

Later, Steele blew up at the defense over the positioning of a projection screen, saying Cosby's lawyers had it placed so the women's names would be seen by dozens of reporters in the courtroom gallery.

McMonagle said courtroom staff positioned the screen, but he agreed to remove accusers' names from a planned presentation.

The judge said he would be forced to call in sheriff's deputies if the lawyers couldn't behave.

The case began a decade ago when Temple University employee Andrea Constand filed a police complaint against Cosby, her friend and mentor, over an encounter at his home. A prosecutor at the time declined to file charges.

Authorities reopened the case last year after scores of women raised similar accusations and after Cosby's damaging deposition testimony from Constand's lawsuit became public. The trial judge last week said the deposition was fair game at trial, arming prosecutors with Cosby's testimony about his affairs with young women, his use of quaaludes as a seduction tool and his version of the sexual encounter with Constand.

The judge must walk a fine line in weighing the accusers' testimony, given a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling that threw out a Roman Catholic Church official's child-endangerment conviction because the Philadelphia trial judge let too many priest abuse victims testify about the alleged church cover-up.

The defense has questioned the women's motivation, noting many are clients of celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who has suggested Cosby should put up a $100 million settlement fund for potential sexual assault and defamation claims.

Allred argues that her clients have a duty to testify if the court wants to hear from them. She called the defense's dismissal of their accounts "out of context or just plain wrong."

The Associated Press doesn't typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they have come forward publicly, as Constand has done.

An earlier story is below:

Prosecutors in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case say the 79-year-old comedian used his fame to gain the trust of women before knocking them out with pills and drinks so he could sexually assault them.

District Attorney Kevin Steele told a judge Tuesday he wants 13 Cosby accusers to testify at his trial next year to show that an alleged sexual assault in 2004 was part of a decadeslong pattern.

Judge Steven O'Neill is weighing whether to permit all or some of the women to testify under a state law that allows prosecutors to call witnesses of alleged prior bad acts.

Cosby's lawyers want the women barred from taking the stand. They're expected to make their arguments Wednesday.

Cosby is charged with sexually assaulting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home.

3:00 p.m.

A Pennsylvania judge has warned lawyers in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case for a second time after a prosecutor assailed the 79-year-old comedian's lawyers with allegations of witness intimidation.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele blew up at the defense over the positioning of a projection screen at a hearing Tuesday where prosecutors are seeking permission to have 13 Cosby accusers testify at his upcoming trial.

Steele says Cosby's lawyers had the screen placed so the women's names would be seen by dozens of reporters in the courtroom gallery. Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle says courtroom staff positioned the screen.

Judge Steven O'Neill said he'd be forced to call in sheriff's deputies if the lawyers couldn't conduct themselves properly.

Cosby is charged with sexually assaulting a woman at his home in 2004.

2:25 p.m. 

Defense lawyers for Bill Cosby are complaining that celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred fed Pennsylvania prosecutors a list of accusers to use as witnesses at Cosby's sex assault trial.

The 79-year-old Cosby appeared relaxed in court Tuesday as he listened to pretrial arguments about how many other accusers can testify as "prior bad act" witnesses at his spring trial. Cosby is facing charges he sexually assaulted a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Prosecutors hope to call 13 of the approximately 50 Cosby accusers they interviewed to show an alleged pattern of criminal activity.

The defense believes the judge should consider how prosecutors selected those women.

The hearing is scheduled to run through Wednesday.

12:05 p.m.

The Pennsylvania judge in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case doesn't want to hear from a memory expert at this week's hearing on the potential testimony of other accusers.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill says the memory expert won't help him decide if the accusers can testify against the 79-year-old comedian. He says the expert might be allowed to take the stand at Cosby's trial next year.

The criminal charges involve Cosby's 2004 encounter with Andrea Constant at his home near Philadelphia.

Prosecutors want to call 13 other women as "prior bad act" witnesses. The women say Cosby drugged and molested them.

Defense lawyers are introducing thick binders full of news interviews, police statements, Facebook posts and other information on the women. They call the accusers' accounts irrelevant to the case.

11 a.m.

A judge has admonished both the prosecution and defense after a courtroom shouting match over the names of the women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault.

Judge Steven O'Neill denounced Tuesday morning's outburst as uncivil.

District Attorney Kevin Steele clashed with Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle over the defense team's practice of publicly identifying accusers.

Steele suggested that Cosby's lawyers are publicizing them in an attempt to intimidate the women.

McMonagle said many of them had already gone public with their allegations.

Cosby's lawyers want the women barred from testifying at the 79-year-old comedian's Pennsylvania sexual assault trial next year.

O'Neill ruled that Cosby's lawyers can identify 11 of the women by name. He said two have remained out of the spotlight and shouldn't be named in court.

___

9:15 a.m.

Bill Cosby joked, 'Don't tase me, bro,'" as he was being wanded by security officers on his way into a suburban Philadelphia courtroom.

The actor and comedian entered the courthouse Tuesday morning for a hearing on whether prosecutors will be able to call more than a dozen accusers as witnesses at his upcoming sexual assault trial.

Lawyers for Cosby are trying to limit the number of other accusers who can testify at a trial involving accusations by Andrea Constand. Prosecutors want to show Cosby had a pattern of drugging and molesting women.

The defense will attack their credibility and relevance to his 2004 encounter with Constand.

The hearing is expected to run through Wednesday.

___

12:35 a.m.

Lawyers for Bill Cosby will battle in court starting Tuesday to try to limit the number of other accusers who can testify at the comedian's sexual assault trial.

Prosecutors near Philadelphia hope to call 13 other women to show Cosby had a pattern of drugging and molesting women.

The defense will attack their credibility and relevance to his 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.

The case started a decade ago when the Temple University employee filed a police complaint. A suburban Philadelphia prosecutor declined to file charges.

But scores of women have since gone public with similar accusations. And damaging testimony Cosby gave in the first accuser's civil lawsuit became public last year. That led authorities to reopen the case.

The hearing is expected to run Tuesday through Wednesday.

--

This article has been updated. 

Published in News

Tagged under , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »