3 Nov 2016

Cosby argues for charges to be thrown out

10:22 am on 3 November 2016

Bill Cosby has renewed his attempt to have sexual assault charges against him thrown out.

The comedian's lawyers have argued that an 11-year gap between the incident and Cosby's arrest had violated his rights.

Bill Cosby arrives at court in Pennsylvania.

Bill Cosby arrives at court in Pennsylvania. Photo: AFP

The argument was made during a two-day hearing in Pennsylvania to determine the scope of evidence prosecutors can introduce at Cosby's trial next June, including whether they can call as witnesses more than a dozen other women who have accused him of sexual assault.

Cosby, 79, who once enjoyed immense popularity as a family-friendly entertainer, is facing assault allegations going back decades from about 60 women.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

The accusation by Andrea Constand, a former basketball coach at Cosby's alma mater Temple University, is the only one to result in a criminal prosecution.

Constand said Cosby gave her pills and then sexually assaulted her in 2004 at his house in Pennsylvania.

At the time, the Montgomery County district attorney's office concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge Cosby. But the unsealing in 2015 of sworn testimony Cosby gave during Constand's civil case, in which he described giving women quaaludes before sexual encounters, prompted county District Attorney Kevin Steele to bring charges.

Cosby's lawyer Angela Agrusa said in court that the decade that passed had deprived Cosby of his due process rights. She accused Mr Steele of using Cosby as a "pawn" to advance his career.

But Deputy District Attorney Robert Falin said Mr Steele had done what "any reasonable prosecutor" would do in light of new evidence - look again at the case and decide whether to bring charges.

Ms Agrusa also argued that Cosby has become legally blind and cannot assist properly in his defence by examining documents.

Judge Steven O'Neill, however, expressed skepticism that losing one's eyesight would be enough to justify dismissing the charges.

Cosby walked through the courthouse on Wednesday holding the arm of an aide, who helped him navigate the hallways.

Prosecutors have asked Judge O'Neill for permission to call as witnesses 13 other accusers, to demonstrate what they say is a pattern of wrongdoing - an issue the judge is likely to take up later today.

He has already heard arguments over whether Cosby's testimony from Constand's civil case should be barred from trial. It is not clear when he will rule on the various pre-trial issues.


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