Bill Cosby‘s lawyers want to have their client’s sexual assault conviction overturned, as the 82-year-old embattled comedian serves a three- to 10-year prison sentence in Montgomery County.
Cosby was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era, but the new request will set the stage for a pivotal ruling that could shape the future of the movement.
According to Post Gazette, attorneys sat before a panel of Superior Court judges for over an hour to discuss two key issues: whether it was fair to include testimony from five additional women who accused Cosby of assault, and whether a past prosecutor had agreed never to prosecute the comedian — or had the authority to do so.
Cosby was convicted last year solely in the 2004 assault of accuser Andrea Constand, but five other women testified in front of a jury. “Everything is different,” Cosby attorney Kristen L. Weisenberger said, noting how old some cases were and that one woman even said she did not recall an assault.
Under Pennsylvania law, “prior bad acts” witnesses are seen as potentially prejudicial and can be admitted only under rare exceptions, such as to prove a defendant engaged in a specific pattern of behavior.
Cosby’s lawyers argued that the women’s stories were not consistent across the board enough to be permitted as pattern evidence. However, Judge John Bender, the presiding judge on the panel, didn’t believe in that theory. “He gives them drugs, and then he has sex with them,” the judge said. “That’s the pattern, isn’t it?”
The judges did not issue a ruling as of Monday and also did not set a timetable for doing so.