Bill Cosby’s defense lawyers asked Judge Steven O’Neill, presiding over this notorious sexual assault trial, to step down — because his wife is an active social worker and advocates for victims of assault. The request was officially denied on Thursday, as the Associated Press reports. Judge O’Neill voiced his objectivity at a pretrial hearing, maintaining that he is “not biased or prejudiced” as a result of his marriage, and that the idea he shared his wife’s views in all matters, or allows them to influence his work as a judge, “is faulty, plain and simple.”
Cosby’s defense team recently tried — and failed — to overturn Judge O’Neill’s ruling to allow up to five more accusers to testify. The court appearance in Philadelphia today marks the defense’s final stand in attempting to delay Cosby’s retrial, after the unsuccessful aforementioned attempt. As the AP reports, while jury selection is slated for Monday, the defense team could appeal that schedule to the state’s Supreme Court.
For those of you living under a rock, Bill Cosby, now 80 years old, faces charges of sexually assaulting 60 women throughout his career. The trial in question here regards the drugging and molesting of former Temple University athletics administrator Andrea Constand at the comedian’s home in 2004. As the Associated Press points out, though the defense is eager to postpone this trial, it could also benefit from essential rulings that could aid the argument of Constand being a gold digger.
Deborah O’Neill, the judge’s wife, reportedly works as a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania, and manages a team of social workers attempting to alleviate the plight of students who have been sexually assaulted. What Cosby’s lawyers thought was a clear, lucky break — Deborah O’Neill’s $100 donation to an organization planning to protest the comedian outside his retrial — amounted to nothing but the judge rejecting their demand for him to step down.
“How are my wife’s independent views of an independent woman connected to me?” said Judge O'Neill. “She’s an independent woman and has the right to be involved in anything that she believes in.” Judge O’Neill also said that the defense mentioned their desire for him to step down as early as December of 2016, but never officially demanded such a measure until now. The two-year wait to do so, by the way, is something that could’ve been used to reject the demand automatically, according to the judge.
Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason — she does not discriminate, operate on personal bias, or from a place of prejudice. The fact that judge O’Neill is married to a woman who is staunchly anti-rape, however, does not remove that blindfold. The reason why is fairly simple: we should all be against the rape, abuse, and assault, of not only women — but every human. It makes sense for the defense to use this relationship as a tool, but unfortunately for them, it was easily knocked out of their hands, leaving them to defend a man who has now been officially accused of assaulting at least 60 women.