April 9 (UPI) — Opening arguments in the sexual assault retrial of comedian Bill Cosby began Monday, as outside the courthouse, police arrested a topless protester — an actor on the comedian’s former sitcom.
Cosby, 80, pleaded not guilty to three counts of aggravated indecent assault. A judge declared a mistrial in June after jurors could not agree on a unanimous decision on any charge.
The first trial provided little forensic evidence and featured primary witness Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home in 2004.
The retrial in Norristown, Pa., comes after the recent rise of a women’s movement condemning some men in the entertainment business. Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey are among those who have been accused of harassment and assault. Cosby, though, is the only Hollywood celebrity facing criminal charges. If convicted he could spend up to 10 years in prison.
Protesters gathered outisde the Montgomery County courthouse as Cosby arrived. A topless woman vaulted a barricade and rushed toward Cosby, but was detained by deputies.
Police identified her as Nicolle Rochelle, a 38-year-old actress who appeared four times on “The Cosby Show” as a friend of Rudy Huxtable.
Rochelle could be heard chanting “women’s lives matter” as police led her away in handcuffs.
On Sunday, Rochelle posted a Facebook photo of herself standing outside the New York City home used for the exterior shots of the Huxtable residence.
“In honor of the first day of the Bill Cosby retrial, I went by the address where they filmed The Cosby Show exterior in New York City…LET’S HOPE JUSTICE WILL FINALLY BE SERVED !” she captioned the photo.
For the new trial, the jury of seven men and five women were asked about their thoughts on the #MeToo movement during the jury selection process.
Prosecutors will be able to seek testimony from up to five women who say Cosby drugged and assaulted them. One woman testified at the first trial.