Bill Cosby, 83, will be heading back to court on December 1 when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court hears an appeal of his felony sex assault case. After a lower court upheld his felony conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his home in 2004, the state’s high court agreed to review two specific issues in the case.
The first issue hinges on the five women who were called by prosecutors to testify to their own experiences with Cosby spanning several decades. Each woman described under oath incidents in which they say Cosby drugged and raped them. While it’s not unusual for prosecutors to call prior “bad acts” witnesses (in fact, it’s legal to do so in the state of Pennsylvania), the defense team claims that their testimony prejudiced the jury. In the first trial, the judge allowed only one prior bad act witness. In the retrial, there were five.
The second issue pivots on Cosby’s own revelations about furnishing women with quaaludes. The statements came from the comedian’s 2005 deposition in which he admitted using the drug to entice women into having sex, a statement his legal team says should not have gone to the jury. But prosecutors successfully submitted the transcript as evidence after Cosby admitted that he gave Constand unidentified pills the night she visited his home 11 years earlier. The pills, she testified, caused her to lose consciousness, at which time Cosby assaulted her.
If Cosby’s lawyers are successful in convincing the court that one or two of these issues prejudiced the jury, the conviction could be overturned.
Over the years, dozens of women have accused Cosby of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them, including former actors and models, some of whom appeared on his hit television show. Now registered as a violent sexual predator by the court, Cosby’s been serving his three-to-ten-year term at a state prison near Philadelphia. He denies all accusations against him.
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