New sexual assault trial of actor Bill Cosby to open in April
The second sexual assault trial of American television legend Bill Cosby will open on April 2, 2018, the presiding judge ruled Friday.
The trial was originally to have started on November 6, but Judge Steven O’Neill of the Court of Common Pleas in Norristown, Pennsylvania agreed to postpone it until the spring to give the actor’s new lawyers time to prepare. O’Neill had declared a mistrial in June when the jury in an earlier trial proved hopelessly deadlocked. Cosby’s lead attorney in that trial, Brian McMonagle, announced in August that he was withdrawing from the case.
He was succeeded by Los Angeles celebrity attorney Tom Mesereau, who gained fame in 2005 by winning acquittal on all charges for superstar entertainer Michael Jackson at the end of a four-month trial on child molestation.
Two other lawyers, Kathleen Bliss and Sam Silver, have joined Mesereau’s defense team.
Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, abuse or misconduct over the years, but the trial next year will deal only with one of the alleged attacks.
The plaintiff, Andrea Constand, 44, has accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in January 2004 in his home in Cheltenham, a suburb of Philadelphia, Cosby’s hometown.
The 80-year-old actor has admitted to touching Constand, now a massage therapist, but insisted the relationship was consensual.
She has said he gave her pills that left her semi-conscious, then made sexual advances — a story not unlike those recounted by many of the other accusers.