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Bill Cosby files new appeal in Pennsylvania Supreme Court
A lawyer for Bill Cosby believes his sex assault conviction should be thrown out — because he suffered “unquantifiable prejudice” at the hands of prosecutors.
Jennifer Bonjean, a member of the fallen funnyman’s appeals team, appeared at a virtual hearing in Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday to combat his 2018 conviction.
“Consensus surely must be reached that Mr. Cosby suffered unquantifiable prejudice where the PBA evidence — or the prior bad act evidence — overwhelmed his second trial, converting it from a trial on a single offense to a trial of his character,” Bonjean told the seven-judge panel.
Cosby’s appeal is two-pronged — he is fighting his conviction based off of testimony of five women who prosecutors said proved his pattern of predatory behavior, as well as a deposition that was used at trial in which the actor admitted to giving Quaaludes to women before sex.
Cosby sat for the 2005-2006 deposition, Bonjean argued, under the promise from then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor that the comedian would never face criminal charges for the conduct.
“He had to testify in order to not be prosecuted,” Bonjean said.
Cosby was ultimately convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault after drugging former friend Andrea Constand and molesting her in 2004 at his Philadelphia mansion.
She also argued that the accounts from the five accusers — testimony that was not presented at his first trial, which ended in a hung jury — were too dissimilar to Constand’s to have been permitted.
“The sexual acts were different. The nature of intoxicants was different,” she said.
The 83-year-old, legally blind disgraced star — best known for his fatherly role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” — is serving a three- to 10-year sentence in a state prison near Philly.
At least one of the justices appeared to side with Cosby on the prior-bad-acts argument.
“I understand your argument. I tend to agree this evidence was extraordinarily prejudicial to your client,” said Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer, “but there’s a trial court discretion component here.”
Baer was referring to trial Judge Steven O’Neill’s decision to allow testimony from the five witnesses, a move he said showed the comic had a “signature” sex-assault pattern.
Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele’s legal team, led by Adrienne Jappe, argued on Tuesday that both of Cosby’s arguments have already been ruled on by O’Neill and the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the state’s intermediate appellate court.
“The defendant engaged in a years-long signature predatory pattern of seeking out and intentionally isolating young women so he could intoxicate them for the ultimate purpose of sexually assaulting them,” said Jappe.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Falin also noted that Cosby’s agreement with Castor wasn’t iron-clad.
“That does not give a defendant license to say, ‘Wow, that’s transactional immunity,’” he said.
The judges will rule on Cosby’s case at a later date.
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