NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) – The judge presiding over Bill Cosby’s indecent sexual assault trial agreed Friday to let one of the comedian’s other accusers testify as to “prior bad acts.”
At a hearing on this issue last year, Cosby’s lead attorney Brian McMonagle fought to have the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas exclude witnesses from unrelated alleged attacks.
“How is this a fair trial when these woman aren’t even sure?” McMonagle argued.
“This is why we have statute of limitations, Judge,” he added. “These claims were from 40 years ago!”
District Attorney Kevin Steele wanted to introduce evidence of 13 women who say 79-year-old Cosby drugged and assaulted them, but 1-page order Friday from Judge Steven O’Neill grants the commonwealth’s motion only as to “Prior Alleged Victim Six.”
It is not yet clear who this woman is, but she is one of dozens of women who has accused Cosby of assault but missed the statute of limitations to bring charges.
The only accuser to hurdle this statute is Andrea Constand, who claims Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2005 while she worked at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee.
Defense attorney McMonagle has repeatedly complained that the case against Cosby is “stale” and laden with “bandwagon” claims, but DA Steele argues that Cosby has a documented history of preying on vulnerable women.
Steele told the court at the December hearing that Cosby “acted as a mentor and exploited that trust with these women.”
“He strikes when he has the setting,” Steele added, “and these woman are so intoxicated that he can conceal what he was doing.”
Judge O’Neill’s order comes just ahead of a Feb. 27 hearing on Cosby’s motion to change venue. Citing a New York Daily News article that nicknamed Cosby an “American Rapist,” and other articles that called him a “monster” and “predator,” the comedian’s attorneys contend that the heightened media coverage and bias against Cosby are interfering in his right to a fair trial.
The change-of-venue motion also states that Constand’s claims serve a political agenda, not any victim. Indeed DA Steele’s campaign for office last year hinged in part on his pledge to prosecute Cosby.
“There is extensive, pervasive, negative coverage of the case against Mr. Cosby because of Kevin Steel’s use of Mr. Cosby as a political pawn in his campaign for re-election as district attorney,” Cosby’s motion says.
McMonagle reiterated this at the December hearing. “This case was not brought for Andrea Constand,” McMonagle said. “She walked away from this over 11 years ago with a civil settlement. These claims were never made until after Andrea Constand.”
DA Steele meanwhile has waved off the argument as a “red herring,” saying that is the duty of Pennsylvania Supreme Court to designate venue; anything else is “contrary to the law.”
The hearing on change of venue will begin on Monday at 10 a.m. in Norristown.
Cosby is not expected to go to trial until June 2017.