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DA seeks to have 13 women testify against Bill Cosby in sexual assault trail

Bill+Cosby%2C+left%2C+is+lead+out+of+Courtroom+A+on+the+Montgomery+County+Courthouse+after+the+pre-trial+conference+on+Sept.+6%2C+2016+in+Norristown%2C+Pa.+The+court+date+was+set+to+be+no+later+than+June+5%2C+2017.+%28Michael+Bryant%2FPhiladelphia+Inquirer%2FTNS%29
Bill Cosby, left, is lead out of Courtroom A on the Montgomery County Courthouse after the pre-trial conference on Sept. 6, 2016 in Norristown, Pa. The court date was set to be no later than June 5, 2017. (Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Bill Cosby, left, is lead out of Courtroom A on the Montgomery County Courthouse after the pre-trial conference on Sept. 6, 2016 in Norristown, Pa. The court date was set to be no later than June 5, 2017. (Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

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Bill Cosby, left, is lead out of Courtroom A on the Montgomery County Courthouse after the pre-trial conference on Sept. 6, 2016 in Norristown, Pa. The court date was set to be no later than June 5, 2017. (Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

By Steve Zeitchik | Los Angeles Times

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — As many as 13 of Bill Cosby’s alleged victims could testify in his upcoming sexual assault trial in Pennsylvania if the prosecution has its way.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who is trying Cosby on three counts of sexual assault of former Temple basketball player Andrea Constand, filed a motion here Tuesday seeking to have the women testify. He has not named the alleged victims, though he has informed the defense of their identities.

At a pretrial conference, Judge Steven T. O’Neill said he would consider the request at a future hearing.

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A trial date of June 5, 2017, was also set at the conference. O’Neill said he would have preferred ‘to begin earlier but was accommodating lead defense attorney Brian McMonagle’s busy schedule on other cases; O’Neill said he would “work aggressively” to potentially have the trial start earlier.

Though witnesses from unrelated cases are not often allowed in a criminal trial, Steele is pushing to call the women to establish a pattern of behavior he says helps prove Cosby’s guilt in the Constand case.

The defense is likely to argue that the other women are not relevant to the case at hand, in which Cosby is accused of fondling and digitally penetrating Constand without her consent while she was under the influence of wine and pills in his Cheltenham, Pa., home in 2004.

If the prosecution is allowed to call the other women as witnesses, it would bring to a legal forum what until now has played out predominantly in the media.

The number of women who have stepped forward to say Cosby assaulted them has now reached 60.

Anticipating a media feeding frenzy of sorts if the witnesses’ names are revealed, O’Neill expressed doubts that what for now is an anonymous filing would remain so.

“I don’t know the names and right now I don’t need to know the names,” he said. But, he added, “the elephant is in the room. We now have 13 unnamed [alleged victims]. We have a courtroom full of the press … I don’t know the identities can be protected.”

Also in court Tuesday, a conversation Cosby had with the mother of his accuser became the subject of an at-times surreal debate involving Canadians and a parrot. I

n 2004 Cosby had a phone conversation with Gianna Constand, Andrea Constand’s mother, while he was in California and she was in Canada. McMonagle argued that the recording should be suppressed because, while Canadian law allows for recording a conversation without all parties’ explicit permission, Pennsylvania law does not, and Pennsylvania has the overriding interest relative to another country.

“It’s all nice and warm and fuzzy because it’s Canada,” said McMonagle. “But don’t make it Canada for a second. Make it Iraq or North Korea. Do we want Pennsylvania to apply the law of a foreign country?”

McMonagle also argued that Cosby did not know he was being recorded, because he did not realize that a beeping sound heard in the tape signaled a recording device. Instead, Cosby thought, per an exchange with Gianna Constand, that the sound might be a parrot.

Steele said Cosby had already waived his privacy rights because he knew he was being recorded and had only been joking about the parrot.

O’Neill was skeptical about the latter claim.

“She kept saying it was a good parrot. Maybe it was a really good parrot that could mimic back beeps.” The recording was set to be played in court later in the day.

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(c)2016 Los Angeles Times

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