Facing up to a decade behind bars, Bill Cosby will get to bring in outside jurors for his criminal trial set for this summer in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County over the alleged 2004 sexual assault of then-Temple University employee Andrea Constand. However, a Keystone State judge has decided that the comedian will not get the change of venue he desired.
Having failed in past attempts to derail the case or get it dismissed, the 79-year-old Cosby arrived at the Norristown, PA courthouse this morning smiling and laughing for the hearing that lasted just under two hours. As required by PA state law, Cosby has been present for almost all the past hearings on the matter.
Before Judge Steve O’Neill today, Cosby attorney Brian McMonalge was virtually the defense’s own worst advocate for moving the case in some ways. Saying Cosby had been labelled a “serial rapist”, the lawyer argued that his much accused client likely couldn’t now get a fair trial “anywhere in this country” because of all the media coverage he has received.
The mixed result Monday for the much accused Cosby comes just days after he received a rare victory in the more-than-yearlong case from the same judge, Steve O’Neill. On February 24, the judge ordered that the actor only has to face testimony from one other woman who says he also assaulted her. Local D.A. Kevin Steele’s office had wanted a total of 13 other alleged Cosby victims to be able to take the stand with Constand to display the actor’s pattern of “prior bad acts.”
Claiming that “the pitchforks came out in force in the fall of 2014, when comic Hannibal Burress called Mr. Cosby a rapist during a stand-up show in Philadelphia,” the defense tried to argue for both outside jurors and the venue change because of the “extensive, sustained, and pervasive negative coverage of the case against Mr. Cosby” in the media. In court flings of their own earlier this year, prosecutors said they had no real problem with outside jurors, but “to the extent he complains about the worldwide attention this case has gotten, that is just another red herring.” They add that Cosby is “not entitled to a jury that is ignorant of the facts surrounding his case.”
As they did when the order was announced last week, a spokesman for Cosby told Deadline “no comment will be made at this time”about today’s ruling. Where the sequestered jurors will actually come from will be determined by the state’s Supreme Court.
The trial for the only criminal case in the country against Cosby scheduled to start June 5 in the Philadelphia suburb.
Even with a couple of recent dismissals, several civil cases against Cosby remain in various degrees of progress. He has been accused by more than 50 women of sexually assaulting them or drugging them over the decades. The Pennsylvania case is the only criminal one against the actor, with the charges laid by then-newly elected Steele at the tail end of 2015. The move came just before the state’s 12-year statute of limitations in such sex crimes expired. Cosby was arraigned December 30, 2015 and released on $1 million bail without entering a plea.