2nd UPDATE 12:25 PM: Attorney Gloria Allred today became the not-so-thinly veiled focus of Bill Cosby’s defense team’s argument against allowing the testimony of 13 other accusers in the 2004 rape case set to go to trial in June.
As they did in the first day of the pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, lawyers Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa made a point of noting to Judge Steven O’Neill and the rest of the courtroom that the LA-based and media-savvy Allred represents the majority of the women who are being seen as potential prosecution witnesses in the case of Andrea Constand.
If found guilty in the only criminal case against him in the county, the 79-year-old Cosby could face up to a decade behind bars and big fines. With Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele having finished his presentation earlier today, both Cosby and Allred were in the courtroom too – as they have been in past pre-trial hearings.
Saying that the 13 other women have “no business” in this trial, McMonagle added today that “the allegations here cannot be defended.” To further that point, both Cosby lawyers repeatedly noted the differences in circumstances and other material matters between the claims of sexual assault and drugging of the 13 accusers and former Temple University employee Constand.
While past Cosby tactics to see the case dismissed have failed since the actor was charged late last year, it is important for the defense to poke holes in the DA’s strategy of showing a “common scheme” to allegations of the actor’s behavior. Pennsylvania law only allows the introduction of witnesses from formally unrelated cases if such commonality can be asserted.
While two of the 13 women have not gone public with their claims, Agrusa spent a portion of her presentation attacking the media profile of the Allred clients. While her colleague McConagle noted how one woman had gone on both CNN and the syndicated Dr. Phil show before sitting down with law enforcement, the fairly recent addition to Cosby’s team said another “had turned talking about Mr. Cosby into a career.”
With far fewer loud voices that yesterday from all parties, the defense will continue its argument this afternoon. O’Neill is not expected to rule today on whether he will allow the 13 women to testify, but if the ruling eventually does not go its way, you can expect Team Cosby to appeal and try again to get the case dismissed .
UPDATED, 7:51 AM: Bill Cosby “shouldn’t be rewarded for being good at intoxicating people and putting them in a state where they can’t resist,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told a judge, the actor and others today in a Norristown, PA, courtroom. It marks the second day of pre-trial hearings in the case against Cosby, who is facing three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault against a former Temple University employee.
“This case was not brought because of Andrea Constand,” Cosby attorney Brian McMonagle said in his remarks. “This is a means by way to overcome statutes of limitations because somebody decided to bang the drum and try to destroy an American citizen,” he added, also calling Cosby an “icon.” Pennslyvania has a 12-year statute of limitations on crimes such as the ones Cosby is accused of. The Keystone State also only allows such witnesses from formally unrelated cases is a “common scheme,” as Steele called it yesterday, can be shown.
Steele concluded his argument Wednesday in the hearing about whether 13 other accusers of the actor will be allowed testify at next year’s trial. Over the past few years, more than 60 women have claimed Cosby sexually assaulted and/or drugged them – the same manner in which the former Constand allegedly was raped by the actor in his suburban Philly mansion in 2004.
“This is a lifetime of sexual assault on young women,” said Steele as he detailed how Cosby used his fame to lure in women and then drug them for sexual favors. Making no mention of a possible plea deal and going through the tales of the potential 13 witnesses to display a pattern of behavior, the DA was continuing the arguments he began at the end of the yesterday’s hearing. The Tuesday hearings were mainly characterized by loud voices and harsh tones from Steele and Cosby’s lawyers over admissible evidence and the positioning in the courtroom of a PowerPoint presentation. It was behavior that Judge Steven O’Neill called “uncivil” at one point.
There was little of that today, as Cosby seemingly casually listened to Steele’s remarks with the knowledge his team would be making their case later in the day. Having been unsuccessful in their repeated attempts to have the criminal charges tossed, Cosby’s lawyers are more than aware that if found guilty in the trial scheduled for June, their 79-year-old client could face up to a decade behind bars and heavy fines.
Anticipating the defense’s arguments of how the incidents described by the 13 other women might differ from Constand’s, Steele made a point of noting that Cosby drugged all these women. They might have “intermittent memories,” he admitted, but the pattern and consequence remains similar. “All 14 instances that we are putting forward are so related that the proof of one tends to establish the proof of another.”
The court is on a break until later this morning.
PREVIOUSLY, 6:47 AM: Bill Cosby was back in court in suburban Philadelphia this morning for a second day of pre-trial hearings on the 2004 rape case scheduled to go to trial in June. Even though the actor could face up to 10 years behind bars and big fines if found guilty of the three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, the 79-year-old Cosby was in an upbeat mood when he arrived at the Norristown, PA courthouse — even as a source says a possible plea deal is now “on the back burner.”
Getting out of his SUV at around 8:34 AM local time, the apparently nearly blind Cosby was laughing with his entourage and asking if they “like my socks?” With some of the same vigor he exhibited at yesterday’s hearing, Cosby then was heard to ask, “Did you remember my peanut butter and jelly?” – which got even bigger laughs from his crew before they entered the courtroom.
It might not be such fun and games for the rest of today as prosecutors and Cosby’s defense team present arguments before Judge Steven O’Neill over why 13 other accusers of the actor should or should not be allowed to testify in this case. The more than a dozen potential witnesses come from the more than 60 women who have claimed in recent years that Cosby sexually assault or drugged them over the last four decades.
While there have been “early conversations” about a possible plea deal, according to the source close to the matter, if the fiasco of the screaming matches that overwhelmed yesterday’s hearing are any indication of the backroom moves, any such agreement is now barely simmering,
While numerous civil cases are in various degrees of progress around the country, the Pennsylvania case is the only criminal one against the actor, with charges laid by newly elected Montgomery County D.A. Kevin Steel late last year just before the state’s 12-year statute of limitations in such sex crimes expired. Cosby was arraigned December 30 and released on $1 million bail without entering a plea.
After hours of bickering between both sides over evidence and the positioning of a defense PowerPoint presentation, Steele on Tuesday delivered about an hour of his argument on allowing the 13 witnesses. Believing their testimony would show a “common scheme” of using drugs to sexually assault women as he did with former Temple University employee Constand back in 2004, Steele referred to the method as Cosby’s “signature” in his remarks.
Anna Orso contributed to this report.