Bill Cosby: Prior bad acts witnesses met with skepticism by judges in appeal hearing

Rachel Brodsky
·2-min read
Judges skeptical of prior bad acts witnesses in Bill Cosby case (Getty Images)
Judges skeptical of prior bad acts witnesses in Bill Cosby case (Getty Images)

Judges on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court expressed skepticism today (1 December) at the prior bad acts witnesses in Bill Cosby's criminal trial.

Cosby, 83, has served two years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004.

During the comedian's criminal trial, the prosecution called five other women to testify, including supermodel Janice Dickinson, as what's called a "prior bad act" witness. The idea is to establish a pattern of planned behavior.

In Tuesday's virtual appeal hearing, however, Cosby's lawyer Jennifer Bonjean argued that the witnesses unfairly prejudiced the jury.

"I tend to agree that this evidence was extraordinarily prejudicial to your client," agreed Justice Max Baer.

Read More: Bill Cosby's sex assault conviction gets high court review

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania comprises seven members, four of whom questioned the prosecution's Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, who argued that the prior bad acts witnesses did indeed show that Cosby had premeditated each assault.

Justice Kevin M. Dougherty, however, asked whether the witness accounts, which date back to the 1980s, were too far in the past to be relevant to this case.

"Frankly, I don't see it," Justice Christine Donohue said.

Though a decision around whether to overturn Cosby's conviction isn't expected for months, this turn of events could be considered a win for Cosby’s team.

Cosby, who was not present for the hearing, certainly seemed to think so.

Read More: Bill Cosby granted appeal in 2018 sexual assault conviction

"This was not just an historic day for me, Bill Cosby, but it became a beacon of hope for those countless American Citizens of the Keystone State in Pennsylvania Correctional Facilities, whose constitutional rights might have been grossly abused because they lacked resources and means to fight prosecutorial corruption," he said in a statement.

"I'm so happy because I hope and truly believe that justice will prevail."

Cosby was found guilty on 26 April 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He was later sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison.