After years of build-up, the sexual assault criminal trial of formerly beloved comedian Bill Cosby ended in a mistrial on June 17. Immediately thereafter, prosecutors vowed that Cosby would face a retrial in an attempt to garner justice for Andrea Constand, the woman who claims she was drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby in 2004.
Shortly after prosecutors announced that the June mistrial would not be the end of Cosby’s legal woes, his defense team began to dissolve. As Vulture reports, just weeks after lead Bill Cosby defense attorney Brian McMonagle filed a request to quit the case, attorney Angela Agrusa followed his lead. The highly publicized departures left Cosby without legal representation in his ongoing criminal sexual assault case.
Bill Cosby is facing three charges of aggravated indecent assault in connection to allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting 44-year-old Andrea Constand. Constand is just one of over 60 women who have come forward in recent years to accuse the former star of The Cosby Show of similar assaults, and the only alleged victim to have her allegations result in criminal charges against the star. If convicted at his upcoming retrial, Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison on each charge, meaning he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Since the loss of his primary legal defense team, Bill Cosby has retained high-profile counsel to plead his case during his upcoming retrial. As NBC News reports, earlier this week Cosby hired former Michael Jackson defense attorney Thomas Mesereau. Mesereau was able to successfully defend Jackson during his 2005 trial, resulting in an acquittal of the damning child molestation charges that had been levied against him.
With less than three months remaining before his retrial, which was scheduled for November, Bill Cosby and his new legal team filed a motion Tuesday requesting a delay. Citing a need for more time to “get up to speed on the case,” Cosby’s lawyers claimed that they would be unable to properly prepare for the case in the length of time currently allotted, reports KSL News.
Judge Steven O’Neill agreed, granting the Cosby defense team’s request to postpone the trial. The judge added that less than three months was insufficient time for new lawyers to familiarize themselves with the complicated case.
“To ask someone to review the voluminous record over 18 months — now 20 months in this case — simply cannot be done.”
Tuesday’s hearing marked the first time Cosby’s new legal team appeared in court on behalf of the star. Bill Cosby has steadfastly denied Constand’s sexual assault allegations, claiming their sexual encounter was wholly consensual.
Judge O’Neill compelled Bill Cosby’s new legal team to consider a retrial date beginning sometime between March 15 and April 1, but a firm date for the retrial has not yet been decided upon. According to the judge, it will be confirmed once he hears back from Cosby’s lawyers.
District Attorney Kevin Steele, who has publicly vowed to bring Bill Cosby to justice on multiple occasions, including (as Variety reports) immediately after June’s controversial mistrial, which stemmed from a hung jury, has hopes that the new defense team gets “up to speed quickly.”
“We have made the determination of moving forward, and it lies in the fact she deserves a verdict in this this case … and we will push forward to try and get justice done. We hope that moving forward in this case sends a strong message that victims of these types of crimes can come forward and can be heard on what has happened to them.”
Following the Tuesday hearing, Steele once again called for justice and a clear verdict in the Cosby sexual assault case.
“Hopefully they’ll get up to speed quickly so we can bring this case to justice. It’s a case that deserves a verdict and we intend to get there.”
For next year’s retrial, it also appears that the Cosby jury will be made up of Philadelphia locals. During the original trial, the Bill Cosby defense team demanded (and was granted) a jury from another county, resulting in a juror being bused in from Cosby’s first trial in the Pittsburgh area roughly 300 miles away.
This time around, the Bill Cosby retrial defense team says they are willing to pick a local jury, a strategy prosecutors didn’t object to Tuesday.
[Featured Image by Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP Images]