The filing comes one month after a three-judge panel on the Pennsylvania Superior Court voted unanimously against a separate appeal, in which Cosby claimed he had been denied a fair trail. Cosby is serving a three-to-10 year sentence at a maximum-security prison outside of Philadelphia after he was found guilty on three counts of indecent aggravated assault against Andrea Constand, which occurred in 2004.
Like the last appeal, the new one is centered around the argument that the testimony of five other women, who claimed Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them, shouldn’t have been entered as evidence. Testimony about prior alleged crimes is allowed in Pennsylvania courts, though its inclusion is rare.
In the new filing, Cosby’s lawyers argued that the court applied that rule “so expansively as to strip an accused of the presumption of innocence and relieve the prosecution of its burden of proof by permitting a jury to hear, and base its verdict on, dissimilar and inflammatory, decades-old propensity evidence concerting allegations of prior sexual assaults from multiple accusers.”
The filing also alluded to the #MeToo movement and suggested the current climate unfairly influenced the jury and denied Cosby due process. “Cases exist in which the outcomes were deeply influenced by public panic fueled by the nature of the allegations pledged, the media, and other special interest groups,” it said. “The criminal justice system teeters on a dangerous precipice in such cases.”
In a statement shared with THR, Cosby spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, called out #MeToo specifically, saying his client was asking the PA Supreme Court to hear his case and consider his concerns about “the impact of #MeToo hysteria on the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system.”
Wyatt continued, “The trial court’s overriding concern should have been to ensure a fair proceeding on the single charged offense for which Mr. Cosby was standing trial — not to provide a platform to any and all accusers who belatedly wanted their day in court. We are hopeful that the state Supreme Court will recognize the long-lasting implications of allowing the court of public opinion to override our cherished constitutional principles and act to rectify this injustice.”
Lawyers for Cosby did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
Along with arguing that the testimony of the five women shouldn’t have been entered as evidence, Cosby’s appeal featured several other claims. One was that there wasn’t a proper inquiry into whether one juror had already pre-judged Cosby (the juror reportedly said during deliberation, “I’m just ready to say he’s guilty, so we can all just get out of here”).
The appeal also brought up the inclusion, as evidence, of a deposition Cosby previously gave in a civil suit brought by Constand after being told by an ex-district attorney that he wouldn’t be prosecuted. Cosby’s lawyers alleged that, because of that promise, Cosby unfairly gave up his Fifth Amendment right against against self-incrimination. They also argued that the previous appellate panel unfairly took Cosby’s statements in that deposition about sharing Quaaludes to mean he knowingly used them as a date rape drug. “The Record does not reflect that [Cosby] understood that Quaaludes were a central nervous system depressant’ that could render a person incapable of consenting to sexual contact,” the appeal read. “Rather, [Cosby] testified that he shared Quaaludes back int he 1970s because ‘Quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people, were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case.”