Lawyers: Cosby's accuser's police statement raises questions - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Lawyers: Cosby's accuser's police statement raises questions

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Lawyers for Bill Cosby told a judge Thursday they need to cross-examine his accuser before his sex assault trial because her statement to police raises more questions than it answers.

The defense asked the trial judge, Steven T. O'Neill, to dismiss the case or schedule a new preliminary hearing. O'Neill could set a trial date if he rules against the defense Thursday.

The comedian's lawyers said a lower court found probable cause this spring based solely on decade-old police statements, and they complained that defense lawyers had no way to challenge the allegations.

Cosby lawyer Christopher Tayback said prosecutors' use of the hearsay testimony rule "blows the doors off" due process.

"There is no rule that says, 'The court has to follow this rule, even if it violates due process,'" he said.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele countered that the right of defendants like Cosby to confront their accusers in court doesn't apply at Pennsylvania preliminary hearings.

Steele told the judge he's using the 2013 rule change to spare Cosby accuser Andrea Constand and other sex crime victims from multiple cross-examinations.

"It's our position that we're not going to re-traumatize victims at preliminary hearings," Steele told the judge, adding that he's using the rule change in a variety of sex assault cases, not just Cosby's.

Cosby was held for trial in May based on his and accuser Andrea Constand's police statements from 2005.

Cosby, 78, in a tan coat and brown slacks, held his left hand to his face as the lawyers argued. At times, he pressed his thumb against his chin, rubbed his eyebrows and held his fingers against his lips.

Cosby is charged with felony indecent assault and accused of drugging and molesting Constand in 2004. Authorities reopened the case last year after learning he had acknowledged in a deposition that he had given Constand pills and then engaged in sex acts with her.

They also considered the dozens of other women who have raised similar claims in the decade since Constand went to police in 2005.

Cosby calls their encounter consensual and describes the blue pills he gave her as Benadryl. He said he sometimes took the same allergy medicine to help him fall asleep.

Prosecutors chose not to have Constand testify at the May preliminary hearing, citing the 2013 state Superior Court ruling that allows hearsay testimony at that stage to spare accusers from repeated court appearances. However, the state Supreme Court has agreed to review the decision, leading Cosby's lawyers to challenge it. The high court has not said when it will hear arguments on the issue.

Constand told police the drugs left her semiconscious and unable to move. Her lawyers believe Cosby gave her something stronger than Benadryl.

The actor was known as America's Dad for his beloved portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on his top-ranked TV show, which ran from 1984 to 1992.

Cosby also is fighting Constand and other accusers in civil court, where he has been sued for defamation — and has struck back with countersuits — over his denial of their sex assault claims.

The Associated Press does not normally identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes unless they agree to be named publicly, which Constand has done.

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