Bill Cosby's 2018 sexual assault conviction will be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The disgraced actor's lawyers filed an appeal earlier this year, arguing that five women should not have been allowed to give evidence at his trial as witnesses, and now the high court is seeking to clarify at which point accusers can testify against a defendant, according to The Associated Press.
Public defenders in Philadelphia claim the issue has seen conflicting guidance provided by the court.
"Courts repeatedly fail to analyze how uncharged misconduct is relevant to prove, for example, intent or identity," the Defender Association of Philadelphia wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in Cosby’s appeal.
There is a "genuine risk that defendants will be convicted for who they are, or for what they may or may not have done before" if the court allows for testimony that is not linked to a single crime scheme.
In response, prosecutors filed a brief on Monday in which they justified Cosby's accusers' testimony. The accounts serve to highlight the 83-year-old's pattern of sexual misconduct and show that the alleged sexual assault of a woman 15 years ago, for which he was convicted, was not a once-off mistake.
"It is unusual, to say the least, that defendant has been repeatedly ... accused of engaging in sexual conduct with unconscious or otherwise incapacitated young women ... without any consequences," the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office wrote in their response to Cosby’s appeal.
Cosby's fall from grace came in 2018, when he was found guilty of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia mansion. More than 60 women have claimed to have been victims of sexual assault by Cosby, but he was tried criminally only for Constand's assault, since the statute of limitations had expired in the other cases.
A Pennsylvania judge sentenced the actor to a minimum of three and a half years in prison on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He has served two years of his sentence and can seek parole in another year, however, Cosby maintains his encounter with Constand was consensual and would rather serve the full 10-year maximum than show remorse for his actions.
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