Bill Cosby To Face Multiple Accusers In Upcoming Sexual Assault Trial

AP/Matt Slocum

As many as five Bill Cosby accusers will be allowed to testify in his upcoming sexual assault trial involving former Temple employee Andrea Constand.

Montgomery County (Pa.) Judge Steven O’Neill made the ruling this afternoon, offering no reasoning for his decision. The ruling is a major victory for the prosecution. In Cosby’s first trial last year, just one accuser, Kelley Johnson, was allowed to testify.

The prosecution must identify the witnesses it intends to call by Monday.

Last week, Montgomery County prosecutor Kevin Steele and his team of attorneys argued that 19 Cosby accusers should be allowed to testify, saying the former sitcom star’s alleged actions against them fit a “common plan, scheme and design” and a rule known as the doctrine of chances. Assistant district attorney Adrienne Jappe said the more often Cosby allegedly engaged in aggressive sexual behavior with other women, the more likely he would have done the same with Constand.

“(He) could not have been mistaken Ms. Constand was unconscious and unable to consent,” Jappe said, “because he’d done it for so long.”

Cosby’s attorneys spent nearly two hours questioning the credibility of the accusers and why they waited so long to come forward, noting their testimony wouldn’t fit into a common scheme because of their claims surfacing after Constand’s.

“What are the chances that these 19 women get sexually assaulted and don’t report until decades later when they hear about (Constand)?” attorney Becky James asked.

James also brought up the “MeToo” movement, suggesting increased awareness of sexual harassment and assault since the first trial would unfairly harm Cosby if multiple accusers were allowed to testify.

The importance of having other accusers for the prosecution was evident from the get-go last summer. Prosecutors opened the trial by calling Johnson to the stand, using her testimony to illustrate the similarities between Cosby actions against Constand.

But Johnson’s testimony didn’t do enough to fortify Constand’s claim. One juror said after the first trial that it had no effect on the jury’s discussions and he didn’t think more accusers would’ve made a difference.

Jury selection for the Cosby trial is set to begin March 29 at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. The trial is scheduled for April 2.

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