Bill Cosby’s Sex Assault Conviction Gets High Court Review

FILE - In this April 26, 2018 file photo, Bill Cosby, center, leaves the the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., after being convicted of drugging and molesting a woman. The actor has spent more than two years in prison since he was convicted of sexual assault in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. Now the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to hear his appeal of the conviction on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The arguments will focus on the trial judge's decision to let five other accusers testify for the prosecution. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

By MARY CLAIRE DALE Associated Press – PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby’s lawyers will argue Tuesday that his 2018 sex assault trial was marred by evidence and testimony that should have been excluded as they ask Pennsylvania’s highest court to throw out the conviction.

Cosby, 83, has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting a woman he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in oral arguments Tuesday morning, will review two issues stemming from the trial.

The defense has challenged the judge’s decision to let five other accusers testify for the prosecution about their encounters with Cosby in the 1980s. The women said Cosby offered them acting training or mentorship, but then sexually assaulted them after they were drugged or intoxicated. That’s the same behavior trial accuser Andrea Constand said she experienced at his estate near Philadelphia in 2004.

Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court appears eager to address the issue.

The defense will also contest the decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a sexual battery and defamation lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005.

The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia reopened Constand’s 2005 complaint against Cosby in 2015 — just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.

Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” became the first celebrity convicted of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era. The AP does not typically identify people who say they are sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.

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