PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A state circuit court judge on Monday denied requests from Bill Cosby’s lawyers to throw out his sexual assault case. Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said he’d leave it for the jury to decide whether the case falls outside the statute of limitations, as the lawyers had argued.
Cosby returned to a Pennsylvania courtroom Monday in a bid to get his sexual assault case thrown out — or at least stop some of his dozens of accusers from testifying at his retrial.
Cosby, 80, arrived at the courthouse Monday dressed in a brown suit and clutching the arm of his aide Andrew Wyatt. He was also accompanied by a retooled defense team, led by former Michael Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau.
The other members of the team are Lane Vines of Berger & Montague in Philadelphia; Kathleen Bliss and Jason Hicks, of Las Vegas Nevada; and Becky James of California.
They argued that telephone records, travel itineraries and other evidence show the alleged assault couldn’t have happened when prosecutors say it did and thus falls outside the statute of limitations.
The defense disputed accuser Andrea Constand’s testimony at Cosby’s first trial last year that the entertainer drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home some time in the first part of January 2004.
Constand didn’t give a specific date, but said the incident had to have happened prior to Jan. 20, when her cousin moved into her Philadelphia apartment.
Cosby’s lawyers told Judge O’Neill on Monday they’ve found evidence that Cosby wasn’t even in Pennsylvania during that time. Constand testified she would have called Cosby to be let into his home, but his lawyers said her phone records don’t reflect such a call within her time-frame.
The date is important. Cosby was arrested on Dec. 30, 2015, meaning any encounter prior to Dec. 30, 2003 would have fallen outside the 12-year statute of limitations.
In addition to arguing the case should be allowed to proceed prosecutors also tried to persuade O’Neill to allow as many as 19 other accusers to testify as the retrial. They say the testimony is needed to counter the defense team’s “inevitable attacks” on Constand’s credibility.
But the judge said he’ll need some time to consider prosecutors’ request, calling it an “extraordinarily weighty issue.”
Throughout the proceedings, Cosby appeared calm and even smiled as his spoke quietly with his attorneys. But the day began with a bit of court room fireworks.
O’Neill put Cosby’s lawyers on notice after they falsely accused prosecutors of hiding or destroying evidence in his sexual assault case.
Despite his obvious displeasure with how the proceedings began on Monday, he rejected the prosecution’s request Monday to throw Cosby’s new lawyers off the case.
Prosecutors argued the lawyers acted recklessly by making the false claim. The judge called the allegation serious but says he’s reluctant to break up Cosby’s legal team with his retrial looming.
Cosby and his lawyers didn’t comment as they left the courthouse after court adjourned for the day.
Both sides return to court Tuesday for more arguments.