PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 16 (UPI) — A Pennsylvania judge denied a request by Bill Cosbyto have sexual assault charges against him thrown out while ruling women accusing the former comedian of assaulted them do not need to undergo competency hearings — though he did not say if they will be permitted to testify in the trial.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neil said the trial will move forward but he has not decided if 13 women accusing Cosby of sexual assault will be permitted to testify, nor has he decided whether he will allow prosecutors to introduce as evidence a 12-year-old deposition of Cosby seemingly admitting to obtaining drugs in the 1970s to use in sexual encounters with women.
Cosby has been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, an accusation she sued Cosby over and won a settlement from in the resulting trial.
“We are gratified that the court denied Mr. Cosby’s attempt to put potential ‘prior bad act’ witnesses through a competency hearing which could have intimidated and harassed them,” Gloria Allred, who represents some of the 13 women, told NBC News in an email. “Once again, Mr. Cosby and his legal team have lost another legal attempt to avoid having to face his accuser in a court of law.
Cosby has been accused by dozens of women of drugging and sexually assaulting them starting in the 1970s and continuing at least through Constand’s accusation that he did so at his home in 2004. Cosby sought to have the case tossed based on the 12-year delay by prosecutors to file charges, also arguing that the entertainer is legally blind because of “end stage glaucoma” and it is unfair to put him on trial.
Cosby’s lawyers wanted O’Neil to question each of the 13 other accusers prosecutors may call while to the stand by questioning their memory of things that happened, in some cases, decades ago. The judge declined to question them, but he has not ruled on whether he will permit them to testify.
O’Neil also has yet to rule on a request by defense lawyers not to allow Cosby’s deposition from Constand’s civil case against him in 2004, during which the comedian admitted he’d bought Quaaludes specifically to give to young women he wanted to have sex with. Cosby’s lawyers argue the deposition should not have been unsealed and that he’d never have testified had he known criminal charges would be filed against him.
The next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14 regarding suppression of evidence in the case, and the trial is scheduled to start next June. Cosby has been out on bail since his arrest on the charges last December.