PA High Court to Hear Bill Cosby’s Appeal

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In a stunning decision that could test the legal framework of #MeToo cases, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will review the trial decision to let five other accusers testify at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial in 2018, which ended with the longtime TV star’s conviction, the Associated Press reports. Cosby, 82, has been imprisoned for nearly two years after a jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in 2004. He’s serving a three- to 10-year sentence. The Supreme Court agreed to review two aspects of the case, including the judge’s decision to let prosecutors call the other accusers to testify about long-ago encounters with the actor and comedian. Cosby’s lawyers have long complained the testimony was unreliable. The court will consider whether the jury should have heard Cosby’s own deposition testimony about getting quaaludes to give women. The court also will examine Cosby’s argument that he had an agreement with a former prosecutor that he would never be charged in the case. Cosby has said he relied on the alleged promise before agreeing to give the deposition in trial accuser Andrea Constand’s lawsuit.

Those issues have been at the heart of the case since Cosby was charged in 2015, days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired. Lawyer Brian Perry argued in the appeal that letting other accusers testify in #MeToo cases “flips constitutional jurisprudence on its head, and the ‘presumption of guilt,’ rather than the presumption of innocence, becomes the premise.” Legal experts said the appellate review could help clarify when judges should allow “prior bad act” testimony from other accusers in sex crime cases, at least in Pennsylvania, and whether a supposed verbal promise from one prosecutor should bind their successor.

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