Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Nation & World

Bill Cosby loses appeal of sexual assault conviction

Cosby, 82, can now ask the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.
In this Sept. 24, 2018 file photo Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Cosby’s bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) [MATT SLOCUM  |  AP]
In this Sept. 24, 2018 file photo Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Cosby’s bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) [MATT SLOCUM | AP]
Published Dec. 10, 2019

Bill Cosby lost his bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction Tuesday, as an appeals court upheld the verdict in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

In its ruling, the Superior Court upheld the right of prosecutors to call other accusers to bolster their case — the same issue that was fought over in pretrial hearings before movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial.

“This decision is a reminder that no one is above the law,” Andrea Constand, the victim in Cosby's case, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Cosby’s lawyers in his appeal said the suburban Philadelphia judge had improperly allowed the five women to testify at last year’s retrial although he’d let just one woman testify at the first trial in 2017.

But the Superior Court said Pennsylvania law allows the testimony if it shows Cosby had a “signature” pattern of drugging and molesting women.

“Here, the (prior bad act) evidence established appellant’s unique sexual assault playbook,” the court said, noting that “no two events will ever be identical.”

The court went on to say that the similarities were no accident.

“Not only did the (prior bad act) evidence tend to establish a predictable pattern of criminal sexual behavior unique to appellant, it simultaneously tended to undermine any claim that appellant was unaware of or mistaken about victim’s failure to consent to the sexual contact that formed the basis of the aggravated indecent assault charges," the panel said in its ruling.

Lawyers for Cosby had argued eight issues on appeal, including the judge's decision to let prosecutors use portions of a deposition he gave in the accuser's related civil suit. His lawyers also argued that he had a binding promise from a former prosecutor that he would never be charged in the case and could testify freely at a deposition in accuser Andrea Constand’s related lawsuit.

The appeals court rejected those arguments and upheld the judge's classification of Cosby as a sexually violent predator.

Cosby, 82, can now ask the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

The long-married Cosby, once beloved as “America’s Dad” for his TV role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the hugely popular sitcom “The Cosby Show,” has acknowledged having sexual contact with a string of younger women, many of whom came to him for career advice and took alcohol or pills he offered them.

After the ruling, Cosby’s spokesman accused the appeals court of failing to properly review the case and repeated longstanding attacks made by Cosby's wife and others on the court system.

“We’re not shocked because it shows the world that this isn’t about justice, but this is a political scheme to destroy America’s Dad, however they will not stop us and we will prevail in the State Supreme Court," spokesman Andrew Wyatt said in a statement. “Mr. Cosby remains hopeful and he stands behind his innocence.”

Cosby has been serving a three- to 10-year prison term for the 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home, which he deemed consensual.

He was arrested a decade later, after a federal judge unsealed portions of the deposition at the request of The Associated Press and new prosecutors reopened the criminal case.

The Superior Court panel, in arguments in Harrisburg in August, asked why Cosby’s lawyers didn’t get a written immunity agreement and have it approved by a judge, instead of relying on an oral promise.

“This is not a low-budget operation we were operating here. They had an unlimited budget,” said Superior Court Judge John T. Bender, who questioned whether any court would have approved the deal.

Judge Steven O’Neill’s decision to let the other accusers testify came after more than 60 women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Prosecutors asked to call 19 of them. Superior Court Judge John Bender appeared to agree with O’Neill’s logic in letting some take the stand.

“The reality of it is, he gives them drugs and then he sexually assaults them. And in four out of the five, those were in mentor situations,” Bender said.

Kristen L. Weisenberger, representing Cosby, said one of the women wasn’t even sure she was sexually assaulted. However, prosecutors said, that’s how Cosby planned it.

O’Neill had allowed just one other accuser at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, when the jury deadlocked. Cosby’s lawyers called his later decision to let more women testify arbitrary and prejudicial.

He and his lawyers and agents have suggested that many of the accusers were gold diggers seeking money or fame. He told a news outlet in November that he expects to serve the maximum 10-year sentence if he loses the appeal, because he would never express remorse to the parole board.

Cosby agreed to pay Constand, a former Temple University women's basketball team manager, about $3.4 million to settle her lawsuit. His insurance company, following his conviction, settled at least nine other defamation lawsuits filed by accusers for undisclosed sums.

Constand, who first went to police about Cosby in 2005, thanked Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele for fighting “tirelessly throughout two trials and the appeals process” for her.

A former professional basketball player turned massage therapist, she is launching a foundation in her native Ontario to help other sexual assault victims with their healing. She is also starting to work with law enforcement groups to help them understand the process that victims go through.

She described herself as “pleased and relieved” the verdict was upheld.

The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. In this image from video, Alan Dershowitz, an attorney for President Donald Trump, speaks during the impeachment trial against Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Monday. (Senate Television via AP) [AP]
    High-profile lawyers Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz launched a historical, legal and political attack on the entire impeachment process
  2. In this Jan. 22 photo, staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China. The number of cases of a new coronavirus from Wuhan has risen over 400 in China Chinese health authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Dake Kang, File) [DAKE KANG  |  AP]
    Misinformation has particularly taken root in Facebook groups for anti-vaccine advocates and believers in QAnon.
  3. In this Jan. 19, 2020 file photo, Britain's Prince Andrew accompanies Queen Elizabeth II to attend a church service at St Mary the Virgin, in Hillington, England. A U.S. prosecutor overseeing the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking investigation said Monday that Britain's Prince Andrew has been uncooperative in the inquiry so far. Speaking at a news conference outside Epstein's New York mansion, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said prosecutors and the FBI had contacted Prince Andrew's lawyers and asked to interview him. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP) [JOE GIDDENS  |  AP]
    Andrew previously withdrew from his royal duties amid renewed public attention to a woman’s claim that she had several sexual encounters with him at Epstein’s behest.
  4. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    The former national security adviser writes that the president told him that he wanted to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid from Ukraine until it helped secure investigations...
  5. In this Jan. 24, 2020, file photo an employee works to prevent a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File) [AHN YOUNG-JOON  |  AP]
    Experts stress the need to be vigilant and prepared for signs of infection.
  6. Flowers, jerseys and imagery is left in remembrance to Kobe Bryant at a small memorial at the entrance of the Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School, Monday, in Wynnewood, Pa. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola) [CHRIS SZAGOLA  |  AP]
    When it struck the ground, the helicopter was flying at about 184 mph and descending at a rate of more than 4000 feet per minute.
  7. In this July 31, 2019 file photo, then National security adviser John Bolton speaks to media at the White House in Washington.  Bolton says he's 'prepared to testify' in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) [CAROLYN KASTER  |  AP]
    The former national security adviser writes in the forthcoming book that the president told him he wanted to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid from Ukraine until it helped him...
  8. Poland's President Andrzej Duda walks along with survivors through the gates of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp to attend the 75th anniversary of its liberation in Oswiecim, Poland, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) [CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI  |  AP]
    Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army on Jan. 27, 1945.
  9. FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, file photo, heavy equipment works at a construction site for a field hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province. A patient in Southern California is third person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the new pneumonia-like virus from China, health officials said. (Chinatopix via AP, File) [AP]
    Two new cases were reported Sunday — one in Los Angeles County in California and the other in Maricopa County, Arizona. The latter case was someone with ties to Arizona State University who did not...
  10. A man wearing a face mask rides a nearly empty subway train in Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. The new virus accelerated its spread in China, and the U.S. Consulate in the epicenter of the outbreak, the central city of Wuhan, announced Sunday it will evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) [MARK SCHIEFELBEIN  |  AP]
    China’s health minister said the country was entering a “crucial stage” as “it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.”
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement