Five more women will get the opportunity to testify against Bill Cosby when his sexual assault retrial begins in April, a Montgomery County judge announced Thursday. The decision marks a major victory for the prosecution, allowing the team to establish Cosby as a serial predator with a pattern of drugging and assaulting victims over the span of five decades.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who also presided over the deadlocked case last June, did not immediately give a reason as to why he decided to allow more women to testify this time around. His only stipulation to his ruling is that the five women be chosen from the eight most recently reported incidents. It has not yet been announced which women will testify.
Cosby was once revered as “America’s Dad” as the star of the hit ’80s family sitcom The Cosby Show, and helped break down racial barriers in television as a prolific writer, actor, comedian and producer. In 2015, he was charged with sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004. He pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges in the Constand case, which include three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault.
During the trial last June, two women were allowed to testify in court: Constand, who claimed Cosby gave her three blue oblong tablets at his home and then molested her while she was immobilized in 2004 and Kelly Johnson, previously known by her pseudonym “Kacey,” a former assistant who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at a Los Angeles hotel in 1996. The trial ended in a hung jury after 52 hours of deliberation.
In total, nearly 60 women have stepped forward to accuse The Cosby Show star of sexual assault and misconduct, but the statute of limitations on their claims prevented them from filing criminal charges.
Prosecutors in the case originally sought testimony from 19 additional women, including model Janice Dickinson. Cosby’s legal team argued that flooding the witness stand with so many accusers would confuse jurors given the current media climate surrounding the #MeToo and Times Up movements; they have said they would seek to delay the retrial if more women were allowed to take the stand, citing the additional time they would need to look into the allegations.
“Developing a defense to any of these outdated claims will require unusual amounts of investigative effort that cannot be completed by the present trial date,” Cosby’s lawyers wrote in a court filing earlier this month in response to the proposed 19 accusers.
It is unclear whether the April 2nd retrial date will be postponed in light of Thursday’s announcement.
Jury selection for the retrial is slated to begin March 29th.