Bill Cosby sexual assault case: Retrial pushed to 2018; new lawyers get time to prep defense

AFP

Aug,23 2017 14:58 32 IST

The retrial of disgraced US television icon Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges on 22 August was pushed back to 2018, to give his new lawyers time to prepare their defense.

FILE - In this April 3, 2017 file photo, entertainer Bill Cosby leaves after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Bill Cosby doesn't plan to testify when he goes on trial Monday June 5, 2017 on sexual assault charges, but the rambling, disturbing testimony he gave a decade ago in the accuser's civil suit could prove just as crucial. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

File photo of Bill Cosby. Image via AP/ Matt Rourke

The new trial had set to begin in Norristown, Pennsylvania — a suburb of Philadelphia — in early November, after his first trial ended in a mistrial in June.

But judge Steven O'Neill agreed on 22 August that it could be postponed to a date "within the March 15 to April 1, 2018 time frame," court spokesman James Koval told AFP.

On 21 August, Cosby's spokesman announced that Los Angeles-based Tom Mesereau — known for getting an acquittal for pop star Michael Jackson in June 2005 after a four-month trial on child molestation charges — would now lead his defense.

Mesereau and his team — who appeared on Cosby's behalf for the first time on 22 August — argued that they needed more time to get up to speed on the case.

Cosby, the pioneering African American actor and comedian, stands accused of drugging and molesting former Temple University basketball official Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

O'Neill declared a mistrial in June when a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on three counts of aggravated indecent assault after more than 50 hours of deliberations.

The deadlock was a victory of sorts for the 80-year-old Cosby, now frail and isolated, who risked spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

But the trial irrevocably damaged the once towering icon of US popular culture, loved by millions as America's Dad and best known for his seminal role as a father and obstetrician on hit 1984-92 TV series The Cosby Show.

Around 60 women have publicly accused the Emmy-winning actor of being a serial sexual predator, but the trial was the only criminal case brought against Cosby as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

Cosby has maintained his innocence, saying his relations with Constand were consensual.