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Cosby Too Blind Now to Defend Himself Against Sex Charge?

Image: Cosby Too Blind Now to Defend Himself Against Sex Charge?

Bill Cosby leaves courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
 

Thursday, 03 Nov 2016 06:48 AM

Bill Cosby is too blind to help defend himself against a sexual assault charge, his lawyers said Wednesday as they waged a multi-pronged effort to get a case against him in Pennsylvania thrown out.

The 79-year-old comedian's eyesight has deteriorated to the point where he cannot identify his accusers in photographs or otherwise help with his defense, The Associated Press reported his lawyers as telling the judge at a pretrial hearing in Norristown.

His attorneys portrayed Cosby as a political pawn who is being prosecuted only because a suburban Philadelphia district attorney used the public furor over the comic to get elected last year.

And they renewed their argument that Cosby's lurid 2005 deposition from a related lawsuit should not be admitted at his trial, saying he answered questions under oath only after being assured he would not be charged with a crime.

Cosby leaned back in his chair as his lawyers made their case at the two-day hearing, which ended with no rulings from the judge and no indication of when he might issue one. Another set of hearings is scheduled for next month.

The "Cosby Show" star once known as America's Dad is scheduled to go on trial by June on charges he drugged and molested Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his home in 2004. He could get 10 years in prison.

Cosby has said the encounter was consensual. He is free on $1 million bail.

Dozens of additional accusers have come forward, including 13 women whom prosecutors want to call as witnesses at the trial to show that they were drugged and violated in similar fashion. Cosby's lawyers are fighting that strategy.

Defense attorney Angela Agrusa argued that prosecutors unfairly prejudiced Cosby by waiting a decade to charge him. Cosby has memory problems and is also legally blind, according to the defense, which presented a medical report that said he is blind in his right eye and has glaucoma in both eyes.

"Mr. Cosby cannot look at a photograph or any evidence and help his counsel or explain who those people are," Agrusa said.

However, prosecutors said Cosby himself caused the delay by fighting efforts by the AP — in 2006 and again in 2014 — to unseal his testimony in Constand's 2005 lawsuit. Prosecutors said that it was not until a judge unsealed the material last year that they learned that Cosby had admitted to a series of affairs and acknowledged obtaining quaaludes to give to women before sex.

"He had never admitted to using powerful drugs to facilitate sex with women. That's a big deal," Deputy District Attorney Robert Falin said. "In our case, it goes to what exactly did he give to Andrea. ... I think any reasonable prosecutor would have taken another look at the case."

Cosby's lawyers have also argued that he sat for the deposition only after then-District Attorney Bruce Castor promised he would never face arrest in the Constand case. Cosby's attorneys are using that supposed promise to try to get the case thrown out or, failing that, to keep the deposition out his trial.

They are also focusing on the campaign between Castor and the current district attorney, Kevin Steele, in last year's election in Montgomery County. Steele ran press releases and TV commercials attacking Castor for not prosecuting Cosby.

Steele made Cosby a "pawn in that election," Agrusa argued.

"His cause celebre became attacking Mr. Cosby, stating publicly that his opponent had not been aggressive enough, had not done his job," she said. "And now he's in a situation where he's got to act on it."

At another point, Agrusa said: "My client is not a meme. He's a human being. And his rights have been trampled by ego and ambition."

In another clash Wednesday, Steele charged that Cosby's lawyers have put the names of some of his accusers in public documents in an attempt to intimidate them.

Cosby attorney Brian McMonagle ridiculed the allegation and said many of the women were already publicly identified and some had even held news conferences.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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Bill Cosby is too blind to help defend himself against a sexual assault charge, his lawyers said Wednesday as they waged a multi-pronged effort to get a case against him in Pennsylvania thrown out.
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Thursday, 03 Nov 2016 06:48 AM
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