Judge allows more accusers to testify in Cosby trial

Bill Cosby sought to block Janice Dickinson from using both a press release from Cosby's camp and a letter his reps sent to media outlets in her case

A Pennsylvania judge handed a major victory Thursday to prosecutors in the Bill Cosby sex-assault case, ruling that five previous accusers can be called as witnesses in an effort to establish a pattern of the star's alleged predatory behaviour.

For prosecutors, having several accusers tell similar stories about Cosby would give them a chance to smooth over issues with Constand's credibility and insulate her from attacks from his lawyers, who've already indicated they're likely to paint her as a money-grubbing liar. It was not yet announced which women will be testifying.

Steele and co-prosecutors Adrienne Jappe, M. Stewart Ryan and Kristen Feden argued during a pretrial hearing last week that the testimony of the other accusers is "strikingly similar" to Constand's claims and should be admissible as evidence against Cosby.

Model Janice Dickinson's defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby can move forward after the California Supreme Court refused an appeal from the comedian. The 80-year-old comedian is facing three counts of felony indecent sexual assault after a former Temple University employee accused him of drugging and raping her in his Philadelphia home in 2004. They argued prosecutors were looking to bolster a weak case with "ancient allegations" that would confuse and distract jurors in the #MeToo era.

Numerous women, according to defense lawyers, did not come forward until more than a decade after the prosecution's highly publicized 2005 investigation of Constand's allegations. All of the women's allegations - except for Constand's - fall outside the statute of limitations and can not be prosecuted. It ended in June with a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict following six days of deliberations.

Johnson, 55, accused Cosby of engaging in sexual misconduct with her in 1996.

Johnson also is included in the list of other accusers that prosecutors can call to testify at the upcoming retrial.

Courts are often reluctant to allow such testimony because of the potential to unduly influence jurors who will be asked to focus on the specifics of the case at hand - in this instance, Constand's assertion that Cosby gave her pills that rendered her incapable of consenting to his sexual advances.

"Permitting testimony from 19 accusers to establish prior bad acts, or even any number close to it, would be unprecedented", the defense wrote in a brief.

The prosecution was limited to calling one other accuser in the first trial in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby has denied all of their allegations. Constand has testified that Cosby took a special interest in assisting her career. "Mr. Cosby is innocent of these charges". The judge's ruling states that prosecutors can choose five women from among the eight making the most recent allegations, dating back to 1982, but cannot select women who say they were sexually assaulted before that date.

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