Bill Cosby challenges prior victims' testimony in appeal

Actor appealing sexual assault conviction

By Eric Levenson and Julian Cummings, CNN
Pa. Department of Corrections/CNN

(CNN) - Bill Cosby filed an extensive appeal of his sexual assault conviction, arguing that it was flawed because the testimony of five accusers was "strikingly dissimilar" to that of Andrea Constand, the victim in the case.

Cosby's 2004 assault on Constand and the incidents with the other women, which dated to decades ago, are too far apart and "remote and unduly excessive," the attorneys argued.

Cosby, 81, is serving three to 10 years in a Pennsylvania state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Constand at his home 15 years ago. Once known as America's Dad, the comedian was given the inmate number NN7687 when his sentence began last year.

Since his conviction, Cosby's attorneys have repeatedly said they planned to appeal.

Although the assault charges dealt only with Constand, Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill allowed five other women to testify that Cosby had incapacitated and assaulted them in other incidents. These witnesses, including supermodel Janice Dickinson, are known as "prior bad acts" witnesses.

In court, prosecutors said these witnesses showed Cosby had a common pattern or scheme in his assault of Constand. But Cosby's representatives said their testimony unfairly prejudiced the jury.

Montgomery County prosecutor Kevin Steele highlighted the "prior bad acts" testimony immediately after the verdict.

"Everybody got to see who he really is when each of those prior bad act witnesses got to testify, he said. "The guy was an actor for a long time. And it was an act."

Cosby's appeal cites the decision to allow a civil deposition, in which Cosby admits to giving women Quaaludes in the 1970s, as evidence of a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.

Cosby's lawyers also argue the commonwealth previously agreed he would never be prosecuted for the allegations in the deposition.

"This filing is an important step in ensuring that Mr. Cosby receives a hearing from a fair and impartial court," Cosby's spokesman Andrew Wyatt said in a statement. "The Constitution guarantees that right to Mr. Cosby — and to all Americans — and he looks forward to securing justice in the court of appeal."

Cosby's wife, Camille, said of the appeal, "America will be great when it fulfills the last four words of the revered Pledge of Allegiance... 'and justice for all.' "

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