FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2018 file photo Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Cosby’s bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction. The ruling Monday, Dec. 10, 2019, was being closely watched as Cosby was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era. Defense lawyers say the trial judge improperly allowed five other accusers to testify. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Bill Cosby loses appeal of sexual assault conviction

Cosby, 82, can now ask the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal

A Pennsylvania appeals court rejected Bill Cosby’s bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction Tuesday over issues including the trial judge’s decision to let five other accusers testify.

The Superior Court ruling was being closely watched because Cosby was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era. The same issue was hard-fought in pretrial hearings before movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial.

Cosby’s lawyers in his appeal said the suburban Philadelphia judge had improperly allowed the five women to testify at last year’s retrial although he’d let just one woman testify at the first trial in 2017.

But the Superior Court said Pennsylvania law allows the testimony if it shows Cosby had a “signature” pattern of drugging and molesting women.

“Here, the (prior bad act) evidence established appellant’s unique sexual assault playbook,” the court said, noting that “no two events will ever be identical.”

The court went on to say that the similarities were no accident.

“Not only did the (prior bad act) evidence tend to establish a predictable pattern of criminal sexual behaviour unique to appellant, it simultaneously tended to undermine any claim that appellant was unaware of or mistaken about victim’s failure to consent to the sexual contact that formed the basis of the aggravated indecent assault charges,” the panel said in its ruling.

Lawyers for Cosby had argued eight issues on appeal, including the judge’s decision to let prosecutors use portions of a deposition he gave in the accuser’s related civil suit. His lawyers also argued that he had a binding promise from a former prosecutor that he would never be charged in the case and could testify freely at a deposition in accuser Andrea Constand’s related lawsuit.

The appeals court rejected those arguments and upheld the judge’s classification of Cosby as a sexually violent predator.

Cosby, 82, can now ask the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

READ MORE: Bill Cosby gets 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault

He has been serving a three- to 10-year prison term for the 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home, which he deemed consensual.

He was arrested a decade later, after a federal judge unsealed portions of the deposition at the request of The Associated Press and new prosecutors reopened the criminal case.

The Superior Court panel, in arguments in Harrisburg in August, asked why Cosby’s lawyers didn’t get a written immunity agreement and have it approved by a judge, instead of relying on an oral promise.

“This is not a low-budget operation we were operating here. They had an unlimited budget,” said Superior Court Judge John T. Bender, who questioned whether any court would have approved the deal.

Judge Steven O’Neill’s decision to let the other accusers testify came after more than 60 women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Prosecutors asked to call 19 of them. Superior Court Judge John Bender appeared to agree with O’Neill’s logic in letting some take the stand.

“The reality of it is, he gives them drugs and then he sexually assaults them. And in four out of the five, those were in mentor situations,” Bender said.

Kristen L. Weisenberger, representing Cosby, said one of the women wasn’t even sure she was sexually assaulted. However, prosecutors said, that’s how Cosby planned it.

O’Neill had allowed just one other accuser at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, when the jury deadlocked. Cosby’s lawyers called his later decision to let more women testify arbitrary and prejudicial.

The long-married Cosby, once beloved as “America’s Dad” for his TV role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the hugely popular sitcom “The Cosby Show,” has acknowledged having sexual contact with a string of younger women, many of whom came to him for career advice and took alcohol or pills he offered them.

He and his lawyers and agents have suggested that many of the accusers were gold diggers seeking money or fame. He told a news outlet in November that he expects to serve the maximum 10-year sentence if he loses the appeal, because he would never express remorse to the parole board.

Cosby agreed to pay Constand, a former Temple University basketball team manager, about $3.4 million to settle her lawsuit. His insurance company, following his conviction, settled at least nine other defamation lawsuits filed by accusers for undisclosed sums.

The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.

___

Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crescent Beach pier closed due to COVID-19 ‘non-compliance’

City of Surrey closure follows recent reports of crowding

Surrey councillor calls for ward system

‘Surrey is ripe for a ward system now,’ Councillor Doug Elford says

White Rock council favours tree canopy over double-deckers

Decision not to prune will limit 354 route to single-decker buses

OUR VIEW: Surrey train tragedy a safety reminder for us all

Summer typically brings cautionary tales

First Police Board meeting Thursday a ‘pivotal moment’ in Surrey’s history, mayor says

The 10 a.m. “virtual” meeting Aug. 6 will be live-streamed and details on tuning in will be available at surrey.ca/policeboard

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

Mission’s 7-Eleven defaced with racist graffiti

Racist insults attacking Indo-Canadians ‘shocked’ manager

B.C. scientist, 63, protests in trees set to be removed for Trans Mountain pipeline

Tim Takaro is reaching new heights as he tries to stall the pipeline expansion project in New Westminster

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Dinosaurs revived for animatronic auction in Langley

More than 500 robot dinosaurs, fossils, and exhibition gear are going on the block Aug. 6

UPDATE: Slow growth for wildfire near Harrison Hot Springs

Fire now burns 12 hectares, grew by 2 hectares overnight

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Most Read

l -->