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Cosby lawyers argue to block accounts of other accusers

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Lawyers for Bill Cosby on Wednesday attacked the credibility of 13 women who said they had been sexually assaulted by the entertainer decades ago, arguing that their accounts should not be used as evidence in Cosby's coming criminal trial on charges of aggravated indecent assault.

[NORRISTOWN] Lawyers for Bill Cosby on Wednesday attacked the credibility of 13 women who said they had been sexually assaulted by the entertainer decades ago, arguing that their accounts should not be used as evidence in Cosby's coming criminal trial on charges of aggravated indecent assault.

Prosecutors say the attacks show a pattern of behavior consistent with what Andrea Constand, his accuser in the criminal case, says happened to her in Cosby's suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. They are asking Judge Steven O'Neill of the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County to allow them to use the women's testimony under a Pennsylvania law that permits the use of "prior bad acts" if they show a signature pattern of behavior consistent with the charged offense.

But Cosby's lawyers say the women's accounts have little in common with the incident described by Constand, who says Cosby drugged her and digitally penetrated her against her will. Cosby says the encounter was consensual and he has denied assaulting any of the women.

Brian McMonagle, the lead lawyer for Cosby, dismissed the women's stories as "a bandaged bandwagon of claims that have been put together in a Pandora's box. It was actually put in that box by clever, cunning lawyers who had the agenda of bringing down an American icon." The Cosby legal team in court went through each of the accounts, arguing to the judge that the nature of the accused sexual activity, the ages of the women and the locations of any encounters were all different and did not represent a pattern.

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"He is charged with one incident," McMonagle said after the hearing. "That should be what we talk about in this case - nothing else." The only true pattern, Cosby lawyers argued in court, was the one seen in the long delays - in some cases more than 40 years - between the time of any recalled encounter with Cosby and the time the women came forward.

Angela Agrusa, a lawyer for Cosby, said "Accuser No. 9" had had no recollection of being sexually assaulted, and only came to believe that she had been after reading the accounts of others who had recently come forward. The delays, and the lack of specifics in the accounts, undermined the women's stories, the Cosby lawyers asserted, and to admit them as evidence would force Cosby to rebut accusations that the accusers themselves did not fully remember.

Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represents some of the proposed witnesses, said in an interview that the Cosby team was simply attacking the victims.

"This is why a lot of women who feel they have been victims of injustice or crimes by celebrities don't come forward," she said, "because they know they will be attacked." Kevin Steele, the Montgomery County district attorney who is prosecuting the case, said the accounts of the 13 women had "remarkable similarities" with each other and with the encounter described by Constand.

He said the common factors included a location controlled by Cosby, an intoxicant, and a degree of trust that the women placed in the entertainer. "This is a lifetime of sexual assault on young women," Steele told the court.

Cosby's trial is now set for June. O'Neill said he would rule in a timely manner on whether the women's testimony can be admitted.

Though dozens of women have come forward in recent years with accounts of sexual assault by Cosby, Constand's case is the only one that has resulted in criminal charges. Most of the other women came forward after the statute of limitations for a crime had already expired.

NYTIMES

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