Less than a week before Bill Cosby is set to face sentencing on being found guilty of sexual assaulting a Temple University employee in 2004, the actor has seen his bid to have the judge in the case replaced or recused rejected.
“And now this 19th day of September, 2018, upon consideration of the Defendant’s Motion for Disclosure, Recusal and For Reconsideration of Recusal, and supporting Memorandum of Law, filed September 11, 2018, and the Commonwealth’s Response thereto, filed September 13, 2018, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that the Motion is DENIED in its entirety,” Judge Stephen O’Neill wrote today, in his second repudiation of such a motion by Cosby and his rotating band of defense attorneys (read it here).
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Found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand this spring in a retrial, Cosby will be in the Norristown, PA, courtroom next week for two-day sentencing hearing starting on September 24. Potentially having to face statements from a plethora of alleged victims as well as Constand, the once-beloved and now much-accused 81-year old actor could get decades behind bars.
Preventing any possible pause on that hearing, last week’s order from Judge O’Neill stressed the “conscientious reflection” that he says he took on Cosby’s latest motion.
“Throughout the pendency of this matter, and in every matter over which this Court presides, this Court is sensitive to its obligations under the Code of Judicial Conduct, and takes these obligations very seriously,” O’Neill notes. “This Court is confident that it has and can continue to assess this case in an impartial manner, free of personal bias or interest in the outcome,” he adds of the nearly three-year matter since Cosby was arraigned on December 30, 2015 in the criminal case and released on $1 million bail. “This Court simply has no bias against any witness called by the defense or the Defendant himself. This Court finds no merit in any of the bases alleged by the Defendant and the Court will not recuse itself.”
This comes as Camille Cosby followed up on her public attack on O’Neill of last week with the submission of a complaint to the Pennsyvania Judicial Conduct Board on September 17. “I have requested that the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board conduct a complete investigation of Judge O’Neill, and to thereafter prosecute him before the Court of Judicial Discipline,” Mrs. Cosby said in a statement before showing up at the Harrisburg offices of the group.
Such complaints to the Keystone State’s Judicial Conduct Board are not made public, so an assumption of the particulars of the content of Mrs. Cosby’s filing and her statements to the media are all we have to go on for the time being. “It would inappropriate for me under the Pennsylvania constitution to either confirm or deny an actual complaint was filed,” Robert Graci, chief consul to the Board told Deadline.
The institutionally centered board has a very specific focus and investigates almost exclusively whether a judge engaged in “misconduct”
With that, Mrs. Cosby may not like the initial response she may already have from the Board. Those who submit a complaint soon afterwards receive a page and half letter from the board, explaining that the group “does not and cannot act as appellate court; nor can it intervene in ongoing litigation.”
More than 60 women have claimed in recent years that Cosby sexually assaulted or drugged them, with some incidents occurring as far back the late 1960s. The actor stood trial on criminal charges in the Keystone State because the jurisdiction has a much longer statute of limitations on sex crimes than most states. A number of civil cases against Cosby have been launched across the country.
Despite admitting in depositions more than a decade ago to giving Constand Benadryl pills on the night of the alleged assault in his Philadelphia-area mansion over a decade ago, Cosby has insisted through various investigations and two trials that the encounter with the ex-Temple University employee was consensual.
A jury disagreed and now next week, we will see what the consequence could be for Bill Cosby.
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