UPDATE 3:40 PM: Bill Cosby will go to trial June 5, 2017, at the earliest.
ORIGINAL STORY: The shape of Bill Cosby’s felony sexual assault trial could become clearer at a hearing Tuesday when his lawyers fight to keep out two key pieces of evidence: a deposition Cosby gave in a 2005 lawsuit by accuser Andrea Constand, and a recording of a phone call between Cosby and Constand’s mother.
The 79-year-old is charged with drugging and molesting a woman he mentored at Temple University in 2004.
Judge Steven O’Neill’s ruling on those defense motions could shape the case against Cosby. This is the first time he’s faced criminal prosecution.
The criminal charges were filed in December, months after Cosby’s testimony in the woman’s lawsuit was unsealed and a new prosecutor reopened the case.
Cosby, in the deposition, admitted to a series of extramarital affairs and described giving numerous women drugs and alcohol before what he called romantic “rendezvous.” Some were in their teens or early 20s.
Defence lawyers argue that Cosby was promised he would never be charged, so he felt free to testify in Constand’s lawsuit. However, a judge this year found he was never granted immunity.
The comedian known as America’s Dad for the top-rated The Cosby Show now finds himself spending his time and fortune defending accusations.
Dozens of women who accuse him of similar conduct say his arrest was a long time coming.
Cosby’s defenders instead suggest he is a wealthy target for the many women he met during five decades as an A-list celebrity.
“None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim. But the question should be asked — who is the victim?” his wife, Camille, asked as more accusers came forward in 2014.
In his deposition, Cosby said he developed a crush on Constand “probably the first time I saw her” at Temple’s arena. He was a university trustee while she managed the women’s basketball team.
When she visited his home one night in early 2004 to discuss a career change, Cosby found her stressed and gave her three unmarked pills. Constand thought it was an herbal product. Cosby later said it was Benadryl, though Constand’s lawyer doesn’t believe that.
Cosby described the sexual encounter that followed, when Constand said she was floating in and out of consciousness:
“I got her skin and… it’s just above where you can go under the pants,” he said in the deposition. “I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
Cosby was also asked about the phone call a year later with Gianna Constand, Constand’s mother, in Toronto. Cosby said he dodged her questions because he feared he was being recorded.
“I didn’t want to talk about, ‘What did you give her?'” he said in the deposition. “And I’m apologizing because I’m thinking this is a dirty old man with a young girl. I apologized. I said to the mother it was digital penetration.”
A transcript of the calls show Cosby offering to pay for Andrea Constands’s further education
Cosby now wants both the deposition and the tape of the phone call suppressed. District Attorney Kevin Steele will fight to use them at trial.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neill is expected to hear arguments on one or both issues at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Nossistown, Pennsylvania, and potentially set a trial date.
Cosby, who is free on $1 million bail, has so far lost his motions to have the charges thrown out. He is charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Constand. He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
With files from The Associated Press