Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives Thursday for a preliminary hearing for his sexual assault at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania (Dominick Reuter / Pool / Reuters)
NORRISTOWN, Pa. – In the Fierce Months During the long Legal Slugfest before Bill Cosby's sexual abuse retrial, the comic's high-profile defense team has repeatedly lost fighting for evidence and witnesses.
Steven T. O'Neill, the seasoned Montgomery County, Pa., Judge. The prosecution has already won a big victory by allowing five former prosecutors to testify that they had allegedly been drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby
On Thursday, a few days before jury selection begins in retrial The defense was again thwarted and failed O & # 39; Do not force Neill to move out of the case.
In an embarrassing hearing, Cosby chief attorney Thomas Mesereau argued that O'Neill could be biased at the Judge's wife, Debora, V. O'Neill, who works for a sexual traumatization center at the University of Pennsylvania Where she is employed as a social worker
"We are worried that there might be a semblance of bias," Mesereau told the judge, whose motivations he questioned.
O'Neill, though his voice broke with emotion, finally refused the defense request and relied on a legal technique, saying that it had not been filed on time, but also firmly asserted that he was not influencing is through the work of his wife. He accused Cosby's lawyers of "trivializing" his wife's accomplishments by suggesting that she had influence over his case law. In a lengthy statement from the bank, O'Neill explained his "deep" love for his wife and his admiration for her accomplishments.
"She is an independent woman, and she has the right to be involved in everything she believes in," said O & Neill. "It's hard to make your accomplishments trivialize."
The scene took place in a tense courtroom. O'Neill, who can sometimes be sociable and talkative, entered the courtroom with pursed lips in the morning. He fiddled with papers for a few moments while a long and uncomfortable silence hung in the air.
O & Neill was visibly upset about the defense, and he did nothing to hide his anger over Cosby's team for distributing their court file and demanding his rejection to the media before it was officially accepted by the court clerk , Cosby, dressed in a dark blue suit with a red tie and matching handkerchief, watched the back and forth with a confused look. While Mesereau and his colleagues quarreled with the judge, Cosby – now 80 – regularly smiled and giggled as he swung in his swivel chair at the top of the defense table.
The machinations of the courtroom deepened into the work of The Judge's Wife plunged into her lectures and into her academic career by addressing her academic writings on rape by acquaintances. Until last week, when the defense filed papers requesting O's refusal, the judge's wife played no public role in this case. The court records of the defense, which include Deborah O & Neill's photo and email address, were directed at her.
The defense claimed the judge's wife had referred to herself as an "activist and advocate for sexual abuse victims" Deborah O'Neill spoke at a University of Pennsylvania campus event in 2013 of a group called Abuse and Sexual Overlaps prevention sponsored. A few years later, the same group called on the university to lift an honorary title conferred by Cosby. The grade was lifted in February.
It was another defense allegation that became the focus of the dispute on Thursday. The defense claimed that Deborah O Neill donated to an activist group – women organized against rape – who are planning new demonstrations during the Cosby trial. The evidence presented by the defense is an Internet donation page for the group showing Deborah O's name and photo.
Judge O & Neill said sternly that the employer had made the donation to his wife and that none of her family fortune was affected. He said he did not know her name, and his face landed on his side.
The prosecutors, who had the upper hand in the battle for pre-trial claims, defied the request to remove the judge. They pointed out that the donation was made more than a year ago – well before the activist group announced plans for a demonstration.
Mesereau, best known for pop singer Michael Jackson's acquittal for child molestation, asserted himself.
"It still seems to us that your wife was responsible for the donation," Mesereau told the judge.
O'Neill revealed Thursday that the possibility of bias regarding his wife's work in the first trial was raised. For the first time, he revealed that Cosby's original defender, who had since withdrawn from the case, told him in a conference call that Cosby wanted the judge to apologize after an Internet blogger argued that he was biased. The lawyer, Brian McMonagle, however, decided not to make a formal request, O Neill said, and the topic disappeared.
O & Neill was also on Thursday struggling to distinguish his legal decisions from his wife's professional work. Deputy District Attorney Robert Falin read a statement O & # 39; Neill made earlier that his wife's job had no bearing on his decisions.
"This type of smoking machine tactic should not be tolerated," said Falin.
In an earlier setback for the defense, O'Neill resisted the defense's plan to call a witness who says Cosby's main charge case, Andrea Constand, was willing to lie, to be sexually assaulted by a celebrity to make money from a lawsuit.
The jury's selection begins on Monday with the judge and attorneys looking for 12 jurors to decide whether Cosby stunned and sexually abused Constand in his suburb of Philadelphia in 2004. The first jury hearing the case can not agree unanimously in June 2017, and O & Neill declared wrongdoing. Aware that potential jurors might become aware of the retrial, O & Neil implored both sides to observe what they say and do.
"Everything you say," he said, "the world is listening, you do not have to do this label, you do not have to do that call."