The judge who presided over Bill Cosby’s criminal case is defending his ruling that allowed testimony from five other alleged victims of the comedian in addition to Andrea Constand, as the case goes before a state appellate court.
In a 1925(b) opinion filed Tuesday, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill argued that his judgment of sentence should be affirmed.
Cosby was found guilty of aggravated indecent assault last year, and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison.
Cosby has argued on appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court that the trial court violated his due process rights by allowing the prior bad act witnesses, and he alleged that the five women’s allegations were too remote and not similar enough to Constand’s to be admitted.
“The importance of the time period between the earlier act and the current act is inversely proportional to the similarity of the other crimes or acts,” O’Neill write. “The more similar the crimes, the less significant the length of time that has passed.”
The claim that the five women had allegations not similar enough to Constand’s is “belied by the record,” O’Neill said. In each instance, he wrote, the alleged victim: was substantially younger than Cosby, met him through her career aspirations or employment, accepted Cosby’s invite to a location he controlled, consumed an intoxicant Cosby gave her, became incapacitated, and was incapable of consent.
Also in his appeal, Cosby has argued that the trial court erred by failing to excuse a juror who allegedly prejudged Cosby to be guilty before the trial. Cosby also disagreed with O’Neill’s decision to allow Dr. Barbara Ziv to testify as an expert witness, and said O’Neill should have disclosed a “biased relationship with Bruce Castor,” the former Montgomery County district attorney.
Cosby has also said the court erred by refusing to dismiss charges in 2016 under Cosby’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, which argued that he had been party to a nonprosecution agreement. The appeal also challenged the admission into the case of Cosby’s 2005-2006 civil deposition and his prior testimony about Quaaludes. Cosby also argued that the alleged sexual assault of Constand may not have occurred within the 12-year statute of limitations.
Finally, Cosby disagreed with the court’s decision not to provide certain jury instructions his lawyers had requested, and the court’s decisions with regard to his sexually violent predator assessment.
O’Neill defended all of his previous rulings.
With regard to the deposition testimony and writ of habeas corpus, O’Neill said “there was no constitutional impediment to the admission of this evidence,” and “there was no promise not to prosecute.”
On the statute of limitations issue, O’Neill noted that Constand testified that the incident took place in January 2004, and a detective testified that there was no evidence to indicate that it took place before that.
As for the juror, O’Neill wrote in his opinion that his refusal to interview all of the prospective jurors from the case, who may have heard the alleged comment about Cosby’s guilt, was not an error. He did interview the selected jurors who were in the room at the time of the alleged comment, the opinion said.
“The court cannot be made to guess at what issues the defendant seeks to raise on appeal,” the opinion said. The juror repeatedly denied making the alleged statement about Cosby’s guilt in interviews with O’Neill, the opinion said.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the opinion.
Harrisburg attorney Brian Perry, who is representing Cosby, did not immediately respond to a call for comment.