Saturday January 19th, 2019 11:40AM

Cosby team decries 'public lynching,' looks to appeal

By The Associated Press
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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby's team blasted his sexual-assault trial as a "public lynching" Friday and began looking ahead to an appeal that seemed certain to focus on the judge's decision to let a parade of women testify that they, too, were abused by the comedian.

Defense allegations of a biased juror and the admission of Cosby's explosive testimony about drugs and sex are among other possible avenues of appeal as the 80-year-old former TV star tries to avoid a sentence that could keep him in prison for the rest of his days.

His movements restricted by the judge, Cosby kept out of sight and was spending time with his wife of 54 years, Camille, in the wake of his conviction Thursday on charges he drugged and molested Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004.

Constand, meanwhile, took to Twitter to thank prosecutors in her first comment on the verdict.

"Truth prevails," she wrote.

Cosby's publicists likened the "Cosby Show" star to Emmett Till, the black teenager who was kidnapped and murdered after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman in a Mississippi grocery store in 1955. Constand is white.

"He maintains his innocence, and he is going to walk around as a man who's innocent because he didn't do anything wrong," Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The conviction triggered more fallout for Cosby, whose career and reputation were already wrecked by a barrage of accusations from more than 60 women who said he drugged and molested them over a span of 50 years.

Temple University, the Philadelphia school that counted Cosby as its most famous alum, revoked his honorary degree.

Cosby maintained close ties with Temple, serving as its public face and often turning out to support its basketball teams — an interest that connected him with Constand.

The defense is likely to focus its appeal on Judge Steven O'Neill's decision to allow five additional accusers to testify. That ruling was a victory for prosecutors eager to move the case beyond a he-said, she-said.

One of those women called Cosby a "serial rapist." Another choked back tears as she asked, "You remember, don't you, Mr. Cosby?" A third declared: "I was raped."

The women's testimony introduced a "huge amount of prejudice and bias," Cosby spokeswoman Ebonee Benson said on ABC.

Lawyers not connected with the case said the defense has a strong argument.

"I think that his lawyers have a very real chance at overturning the verdict," said Christopher Adams, a defense attorney whose clients have included former NBA star Jayson Williams.

He said the judge's decision to allow the "prior bad acts" testimony could have tainted the jury.

"It's one thing if they looked at one or two, but five? He wasn't charged with being a serial assaulter," Adams said.

Former federal prosecutor David Axelrod, now in private practice in Philadelphia, also said Cosby's team has a shot at convincing an appeals court that the judge went too far.

Generally, testimony about a defendant's past misconduct is admissible only under certain circumstances — for example, if it shows motive or intent.

Only one other accuser was permitted to testify at Cosby's first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year.

The Cosby camp also complained about a juror who allegedly said before the trial that he thought the comedian was guilty. Cosby's lawyers tried unsuccessfully to have the man removed.

The defense is also expected to raise on appeal O'Neill's ruling that allowed jurors to hear portions of a deposition Cosby gave over a decade ago as part of Constand's lawsuit against him. In the deposition, the TV star acknowledged obtaining quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women he wanted to have sex with.

How the jury arrived at its verdict remained a mystery. The judge did not immediately make public the names of the seven men and five women, prompting The Associated Press and other news organizations to go to court Friday in a bid to get them released.

Cosby will probably be sentenced within three months. The three counts of aggravated indecent assault carry up to 10 years in prison each, but the charges are likely to be merged into one for sentencing purposes.

He remains free on $1 million bail but is restricted to suburban Montgomery County and the mansion where the jury said he assaulted Constand.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, as Constand has done.


De Groot reported from Philadelphia.


Follow Claudia Lauer at https://twitter.com/ClaudiaLauer .


For more coverage visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial

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