With Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial just days away (April 2), a Pennsylvania judge had agreed to let five more accusers testify. On Thursday, Judge Steven O’Neill gave the word that the prosecution will be allowed five additional witnesses to testify in one of Hollywood’s biggest sexual misconduct scandals.
It was an alleged 2004 assault involving Andrea Constand that earned 80-year-old Cosby his only criminal charges, despite being accused by dozens of women of similar behavior that went unchecked for as long as five decades. The actor has maintained that the 2004 encounter was consensual and denies all other allegations. Meanwhile, Cosby’s team contends that the prosecution is capitalizing on the #metoo cultural moment we're having, and resurfacing “ancient allegations” to strengthen their case.
Last year, the prosecution had wanted to put 13 accusers on the stand, and the same judge only allowed the 2004 accuser to testify at Cosby’s trial as well as another accuser who claimed she was assaulted by the actor in the 1990s. The jury couldn’t reach a consensus, so a mistrial was declared.
This time around, the prosecution aimed to get 19 accusers to testify, saying that “[the] facts underlying each prior victim’s testimony are remarkably similar to the facts underlying Ms Constand’s claims.” Therefore, they argued these allegations “establish the defendant followed the same script with each victim: he established himself into a position of trust and respect, sedated each victim with an intoxicant, and sexually assaulted each victim while they were incapacitated and unable to resist.”