Criminal Justice

Bill Cosby has a new lawyer and additional witnesses in retrial for alleged sexual assault

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Bill Cosby/

Jurors will hear from new witnesses when Bill Cosby’s retrial for an alleged sexual assault begins Monday in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Cosby’s new lead defense counsel is Tom Mesereau Jr., the lawyer who helped win an acquittal for Michael Jackson in his 2005 child molestation trial, the New York Times reports. He will argue the case before a jury of five women and seven men that includes two African-Americans.

The Times examines how the new case will be different. USA Today, the Legal Intelligencer and Courthouse News Service also have stories on pretrial evidence rulings in the case.

According to USA Today, the trial got off to “a memorable start” Monday when a topless protester jumped a barricade and ran toward Cosby outside the suburban Philadelphia courthouse. Sheriff’s deputies stopped the woman before she reached the 80-year-old comedian.

The new trial will be lengthier than the first, in which prosecutors and the defense presented their case in six days. Judge Steven O’Neill, who is again overseeing the retrial, has estimated the retrial will last as long as a month. The first trial last June ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Tom Mesereau in this 2007 photo/Wikimedia Commons.

Accuser Andrea Constand had claimed that the comedian sexually assaulted her after giving her pills, supposedly to help her relax, in 2004. The defense will still argue that Constand consented to the interaction. But this time the defense will present testimony from a woman who said Constand once told her she could make money by falsely claiming she had been molested by a prominent person.

O’Neill did not permit testimony from the woman, Marguerite “Margo” Jackson, in the first trial after Constand said she didn’t know her. The defense has found witnesses who said the two women knew each other, according to the Times.

O’Neill has also permitted the introduction of evidence about Constand’s civil suit against Cosby, including payment to Constand that resolved the litigation. The defense is likely to argue the payment shows that Constand raised the accusation to obtain money, while the prosecution will likely argue the payment constituted an admission of wrongdoing, according to the Times.

The prosecution case will also differ from the first, when O’Neill allowed only one prior Cosby accuser to testify in a bid to establish a common scheme or pattern of misconduct by Cosby. In the retrial, five additional women will be allowed to testify.

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