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

Local liquor store raising funds for food bank

On May 30, a portion of sales at JAK’s Beer Wine & Spirits will be donated to the food bank

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

City of Campbell River re-opening most park amenities and outdoor washrooms

Splash park, playgrounds, sports fields, outdoor volleyball courts, indoor facilities not yet

First Nation’s guardians ‘take matters into their own hands’ and organize environmental clean-up

Mamalilikulla guardians step up to clear abandoned boats after no response from natural resource officers

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read