| NORRISTOWN, Pa.
NORRISTOWN, Pa. Dec 14 Pennsylvania prosecutors
and defense lawyers for Bill Cosby will resume a crucial legal
battle on Wednesday, as a judge considers whether to allow more
than a dozen female accusers to testify at his criminal trial
Cosby, 79, is facing sexual assault allegations from about
50 women stretching back decades, though the Pennsylvania case,
based on accusations from a former basketball coach at his alma
mater, is the only criminal prosecution to result. He has denied
Prosecutors are seeking permission from Judge Steven O'Neill
in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas to call as
witnesses 13 women who say they were sexually assaulted by Cosby
in strikingly similar ways. The two-day hearing began on
State law typically bars prosecutors from introducing "prior
bad acts" unrelated to the case in question. But a rare
exception allows such evidence if it shows a clear pattern of
behavior on the part of the defendant.
Cosby preyed on young women who welcomed his mentoring,
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told O'Neill,
establishing a trusting relationship before using pills and wine
to incapacitate them and then mounting his attacks.
Lawyers for Cosby, whose reputation as a family-friendly
entertainer has suffered immeasurably from the allegations, are
expected to question the reliability of the other accusers, as
well as their motives. They have already noted repeatedly that
10 of the 13 potential witnesses are clients of celebrity civil
rights attorney Gloria Allred.
If prosecutors win the argument, they would be free to paint
Cosby as a serial predator at trial, with witnesses describing
attacks that go back more than four decades.
If not, Cosby's defense lawyers would be able to focus on
undermining just one account: that of Andrea Constand, the woman
whose allegations led to the Pennsylvania charges.
Tuesday's hearing was noteworthy for several heated
exchanges between Steele and Cosby's lead defense lawyer, Brian
McMonagle, that required O'Neill to intervene more than once.
Steele argued that McMonagle was deliberately trying to
publicize the names of the accusers in an effort to intimidate
them. In response, McMonagle said most of the women had already
identified themselves by speaking to reporters and filing
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Tom Brown)