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Cosby’s lawyers try to block 19 accusers from next assault trial

Comedian Bill Cosby's defense team urged a Pennsylvania judge to bar 19 women accusing him of sexual assault from testifying at his upcoming retrial on charges he abused a former friend.

A smiling, laughing Cosby arrived at court in Norristown, Pennsylvania, minutes before the scheduled start of the second day of a pretrial hearing.

He hugged his defense lawyers, who aimed to convince Judge Steven O’Neill that Cosby would be denied a fair trial if the multiple accusers were permitted to take the witness stand in the retrial, slated to begin with jury selection on March 29.

Cosby, 80, is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, 44, a former administrator of the women’s basketball team at his alma mater, Temple University, at the television star’s home near Philadelphia between Dec. 30, 2003, and Jan. 20, 2004.

The actor/comedian, best known as the wise and witty father on TV’s “The Cosby Show,” has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying that any sexual encounter was consensual.

Cosby’s first criminal trial ended in a mistrial in June when jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict in the same court.

Before the first trial, prosecutors asked Judge O’Neill to allow 13 of the 19 women to testify against Cosby, but he allowed only one to do so because, in general, a defendant’s history is not admissible as evidence that he or she committed a particular crime.

The Cosby case qualifies as an exception, prosecutors told the judge on Monday (March 5), on the first day of the pre-trial hearing, because the way he abused the 19 women was repetitive and consistent.

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