With a newly minted defense team now led by Tom Mesereau, who successfully defended Michael Jackson in 2005 against claims of child molestation, the once-beloved actor will be back in court April 2 in Norristown, just outside Philadelphia.
“It is hereby Ordered that Attorneys and the Defendant are directed to appear for trail at 9:00 AM in Courtroom ‘A’ and to remain available until the conclusion of the case unless excused by the court,” said Judge Steven O’Neill’s order Friday morning (read it here).
Cosby, 80, faces up to a decade behind bars if found guilty of the three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault.
The retrial is estimated to last about a week and a half, with the accused in attendance. As required by Pennsylvania law, Cosby was in O’Neill’s courtroom every day of his first trial, that ended in a mistrial on June 17.
Having first charged Cosby in December 2015, just before the Keystone State’s statute of limitations on sex crimes was about to expire, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office said almost immediately that it would seek a new trial after the jury picked from the Pittsburgh area in the first trial was unable to reach a decision.
Originally set to start on November 6 but delayed late last month, the retrial’s new formal date comes a day after Cosby saw another looming trial here in California pushed back. A Los Angeles Superior Court trial for the alleged 1974 sexual assault of then-15-year-old Judy Huth by Cosby at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion now is set to start December 3, 2018. Like the Pennsylvania case, a big reason for the date change was because the much-accused Cosby has hired yet another new set of lawyers.
Of course, that Huth trial might be under very different circumstances for Cosby if he is found guilty in PA.
As she did in the first Norristown trial, ex-Temple University employee Constand is expected to testify in the Norristown-set retrial. No word whether Cosby will take the stand or sit that part out, like he did in the first trial.
More than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting and/or drugging them over the decades.
PREVIOUSLY, SEPTEMBER 14 AM: Another Bill Cosby hearing today and another trial date pushed back as yet another set of new lawyers are brought on board for the much-accused actor.
What looked to be a routine status conference in Santa Monica on Thursday in Judy Huth’s case against Cosby for an alleged sexual assault by the actor at the Playboy Mansion more than 42 years ago saw the previously set July 2018 trial lurched forward almost six months. Huth was 15-years old when the incident allegedly occurred in 1974.
The request for the continuance of the Huth trial to December 3, 2018, and its approval by an LA Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan this morning, came as Cosby shuffled his legal team for the second time in a less than a month. After over a year serving as one of the actor’s top legal lieutenants, Angela Agrusa of L.A.’s Linar firm has exited Cosby’s side totally.
Having dropped out of defending Cosby in his criminal case in Pennsylvania for the alleged 2004 rape of Andrea Constand on August 22 this year, Agrusa will now be replaced in the various civil cases by Wayne Gross and a team from L.A. and Orange County-based Greenberg Gross.
After having gone through various attorneys, including his longtime, now ex-lawyer Marty Singer, in the past two years, Cosby officially ditched Agrusa and Philadelphia-based Brian McMonagle as his defense in the criminal case on August 22. Tom Mesereau, who successfully defended Michael Jackson in 2005 against claims of child molestation, was brought on to lead a whole new team for the Norristown, PA retrial of Cosby.
With a mistrial being declared on June 17 on the three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault that could see Cosby in jail for a decade if found guilty, the retrial was announced soon afterwards to start on November 6. That has now been pushed back to late March or early April 2018 so Mesereau and the other new lawyers Kathleen Bliss and Sam Silver can get up to speed.
While present in Pennsylvania last month, Agrusa was not in court today when the latest set of Cosby lawyers made their public debut. The litigator’s now total departure from Team Cosby comes as a surprise as just last month reps for the actor insisted that Agrusa would still be handling the civil cases.
“Mr. Cosby may change lawyers as often as he desires but he can’t change the facts, including the fact that many women allege that he drugged and sexually assaulted them,” Huth’s attorney Gloria Allred said today after the hearing. “Mr. Cosby is just like Humpty Dumpty in Mother Goose’s nursery rhyme,” she scornfully asserted of the actor. “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a big fall,” she added. “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.”
Cosby’s reps, nor Agrusa nor Greenberg Gross, replied to requests for comment on the latest law team change. Neither Huth nor Cosby were present at the hearing today.
In the particular case being addressed today, because Huth was a minor at the time of the claimed assault by Cosby, who has been accused by more than 60 women of assaulting and/or drugging them, the plaintiff was able to file in 2014 even though California’s then statute of limitations on such crimes had expired.
Cosby faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania because the state has a much longer statute of limitations on sex crimes than most jurisdictions. He was arraigned December 30, 2015 in the criminal case and released on $1 million bail.
Despite admitting in depositions more than a decade ago to giving Constand Benadryl pills on the night nearly 13-years ago of the alleged assault in his Philadelphia-area mansion, Cosby always has insisted that the encounter with the ex-Temple University employee was consensual. Montgomery County D.A. Kevin Steele argued otherwise as did Constand herself, who took the stand for nearly 10-hours in the first trial.
Constand is expected to testify in the retrial but no word yet if Cosby, who did not take the stand in his own defense, will do the same.