Pennsylvania prosecutors are asking the court to allow 19 women who say they were assaulted by Bill Cosby to testify at the criminal retrial over his alleged 2004 drug-induced sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
The issue of whether 13 other accusers should testify as evidence of “prior bad acts” was addressed before the first trial, and Judge Steven T. O’Neill decided to allow only one. The first round of jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict in June, which resulted in a mistrial.
Now, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele is revisiting the issue and requesting those additional 13 women — plus six more.
“[T]his evidence is relevant to establish that an individual who, over the course of decades, intentionally intoxicated women in a signature fashion and then sexually assaulted them while they were incapacitated, could not have been mistaken about whether or not Ms. Constand was conscious enough to consent to the sexual contact,” writes Steele in a Thursday filing.
The document details each of the 19 women’s alleged encounters with Cosby. The earliest dates back to 1965 and the most recent to 1996. Each story involves some sort of an intoxicant and sexual assault.
Because Cosby admitted to sexual contact with Constand, the issue at trial is that of consent. Steele argues it would “defy logic” to believe that Cosby was mistaken about Constand’s ability to consent in light of the “strikingly similar acts with numerous other women.”
He also argues that the commonwealth’s need for the evidence outweighs any potential for unfair prejudice against Cosby. (Read the full filing, below.)
“Without the prior bad acts evidence, the Commonwealth would have to rely on uncorroborated testimony of the victim regarding the lack of consent,” writes Steele. “Furthermore, the prior bad acts evidence is necessary for another purpose: to counter the defense’s inevitable attacks on the victim’s credibility, which were rampant during defendant’s first trial.”
Cosby’s retrial is scheduled to begin in April. His legal team has not yet commented on the filing.